The display study on high elevation toad-headed agamid Phrynocephalus theobaldi in Lhasa, Tibet of China

As one important part of dynamic visual signal study, we visited the most high elevation toad-headed agamad Phrynocephalus theobaldi in Duilongdeqin county, 10 km west of Lhasa. Ke Jiang who will be our potential candidate master student accompanied me this time. Ke Jiang also found one of friend (Xiao Yang) in Lhasa helped us in the field. To be honest, both of us were a little worried about this trip, because one month ago, Ke Jiang had visited the same site and he found none active lizard during whole day. He suspected that this species might be very stationary and cryptic. Thus we had prepared many protocals for this field trip, such as waiting out of a burrow, digging and displacing lizard to a new site, or even putting focal lizard into enclosures, and so on.

Tail displays of Phrynocephalus theobaldi
Tail displays of Phrynocephalus theobaldi

Cyrtopodion tibetanus
Cyrotpodion tibetanus whose habitat is overlapped with Phrynocephalus theobaldi

The specific behavior of P. theobaldi changed our mind. As high elevation species, the display frequency was indeed smaller than other speices, such as P. frontillis and P. versicolor, and they seemed very timid and needed longer time to move out. But both of male and female lizards were very aggressive and territorial as P. vlangalii. When we tethered a male to focal male, the focal male would display immediately or even bite to the intruder. The most interesting point was that the focal male still made some courtship behaviors even we displaced focal lizard to a new site, this surprised us very much. We continued this work for one week, because there was a little raining every moring and we only had half a day for field work. The study on display of P. theobaldi means we had got all representive species of Genus Phrynocephalus finished and we would consider analyzing those data in next few monthes.

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