Panther Chameleons and Regional Differences

the cw

Member
Hi!

Do panther chameleons prefer certain regional colors when breeding? That is, does a female Nosey Be prefer colors typical to that region or is color irrelevant? Any discussion on the role of color variation on sexual selection would be very much appreciated.

I've looked online and on google scholar but have not been able to find anything that directly covers this.
 
Panther females of all locales look nearly exactly the same. Any differences in appearance is very minor if any. There is a big amount of variation (though mostly subtle) even between female siblings of the same locale. Color plays no role in my experience other than the colors females change to when receptive, when not receptive and when gravid.
 

the cw

Member
Panther females of all locales look nearly exactly the same. Any differences in appearance is very minor if any. There is a big amount of variation (though mostly subtle) even between female siblings of the same locale. Color plays no role in my experience other than the colors females change to when receptive, when not receptive and when gravid.
I might have been unclear. Sorry about that.

I meant do female panther chameleons prefer certain *male* colors. That is, do females of a certain region prefer males of the same region (x prefers x, y prefers y, etc).
 
The size difference is massive between males and female panthers. Most males are two to three times bigger than the female. There is not much a female can do to stop a eager male. I do not think preference has much to do with it for the females at all. For most animals in the wild the males battle it out and the female gets the winner. That's it!
 

the cw

Member
The size difference is massive between males and female panthers. Most males are two to three times bigger than the female. There is not much a female can do to stop a eager male. I do not think preference has much to do with it for the females at all. For most animals in the wild the males battle it out and the female gets the winner. That's it!
I think this is the perspective of many researchers. I think your perspective is right for many animals but I think there's a question with some types of sexual selection and how some species (maybe chameleons) react. Just an idea right now. Thanks!
 

KingGoodman

Member
It was my understanding from the videos I watched from my armchair :p that the female needed to be receptive to the male for them to breed. If she likes him she turns pretty colors and if she doesn’t she gets all dark and doesn’t get lucky. Is that not the case?
 
How she reacts plays very little role with the outcome of things with such a massive size difference between male and female in nature, I promise! When I see that my females are not ready to breed I separate them. There is no one out there in nature to separate them!
 
It was my understanding from the videos I watched from my armchair :p that the female needed to be receptive to the male for them to breed. If she likes him she turns pretty colors and if she doesn’t she gets all dark and doesn’t get lucky. Is that not the case?
You are correct, but I have (in nature) seen females that are not receptive act out, hiss, bite and go crazy! From my perspective it looked like rape! Once again, some males might back off, but a eager breeder will forcefully subdue the female and breed with her anyway! Because females can carry sperm for a long long time and become gravid with fertile eggs time and time again from only one mating (from the survival of the species perspective) it does not really matter if she is ready or not!
 

JacksJill

Chameleon Enthusiast
I believe in the wild where there is more of a chance for the female to escape from breeding color preference can play a role. They probably evade males of colors they prefer slower or not at all when the time is right.
 

the cw

Member
I haven't been able to find much scientific research on F. pardalis mating preferences. I don't doubt that size makes a (big) difference, but what other factors are there. Honestly, shocked this hasn't been investigated (at the very least if it has been investigated the research is not immediately clear).
 

the cw

Member
If anyone would know it would be @Chris Anderson I don't think the females have much of a chanse avoiding the males. Because chameleons have a "black light/ultraviolet" glow and amazing eyes they can see each other from far away.
The question of ultraviolet light is particularly interesting to me. It implies the chameleons, if they were selecting for color, would be different than our hypothesis of the chameleon's selection (e.g, we see blue but they see something else and prefer that). I'm also intrigued because of mate guarding with males might make an incentive for female preference to move away from a guarding male. That is, precipitate a fight based on preference (if preference is what can/is happening).

Maybe I just need to sit down with a panther chameleon researcher! Haha. :p
I hope the gentleman you tagged has some info on this. It's a technical question, I'll grant.
 

Syreptyon

Chameleon Enthusiast
Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the availability of color variation is significantly limited based upon the geographical whereabouts of a particular chameleon in Madagascar. Here's a recent article from 2015, which outlines color variation with respect to geography: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755148/

Nosy Be panthers, for example, are geographically isolated to the island of the same name off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Accordingly, female Nosy Bes will not even have the opportunity to witness the colors representative of, say, Nosy Boraha or Sambava (see the image I've attached) in the wild. I think this is an interesting question, but I agree that females probably don't have much say in their mating partners. And based on the chameleon personalities I know, they probably don't really want anything to do with other chams for the most part anyways ;) I would be curious whether one could test a wildtype Nosy Be female's relative interest if she was introduced to a wildtype Nosy Be male and also a wildtype some-other-distant-locale like Nosy Boraha. It would be harder to assay a potential preference like this in captive bred chams, though, which are raised in an entirely different set of environmental conditions.

These data also reveal major differences in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of panther chameleons and the authors go so far as to say "most of the mitochondrial haplogroups could be considered as separate species," which I find particularly interesting. This points to the increasingly apparent fact that speciation is not something we completely understand, since obviously different locales are still able to breed successfully. Also, just having mtDNA samples from male panther chameleons can pretty reliably tell you where they came from in Madagascar! Okay, this post kind of went off the rails, but it's neat!

Now what I really wonder, is whether different locales show locale-dependent differences in their UV patterns...
 

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the cw

Member
Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is that the availability of color variation is significantly limited based upon the geographical whereabouts of a particular chameleon in Madagascar. Here's a recent article from 2015, which outlines color variation with respect to geography: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755148/

Nosy Be panthers, for example, are geographically isolated to the island of the same name off the northwest coast of Madagascar. Accordingly, female Nosy Bes will not even have the opportunity to witness the colors representative of, say, Nosy Boraha or Sambava (see the image I've attached) in the wild. I think this is an interesting question, but I agree that females probably don't have much say in their mating partners. And based on the chameleon personalities I know, they probably don't really want anything to do with other chams for the most part anyways ;) I would be curious whether one could test a wildtype Nosy Be female's relative interest if she was introduced to a wildtype Nosy Be male and also a wildtype some-other-distant-locale like Nosy Boraha. It would be harder to assay a potential preference like this in captive bred chams, though, which are raised in an entirely different set of environmental conditions.

These data also reveal major differences in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of panther chameleons and the authors go so far as to say "most of the mitochondrial haplogroups could be considered as separate species," which I find particularly interesting. This points to the increasingly apparent fact that speciation is not something we completely understand, since obviously different locales are still able to breed successfully. Also, just having mtDNA samples from male panther chameleons can pretty reliably tell you where they came from in Madagascar! Okay, this post kind of went off the rails, but it's neat!

Now what I really wonder, is whether different locales show locale-dependent differences in their UV patterns...
Ha! Yeah, chams are amusing in how grumpy they are.

But, even if they don't often, or ever, have the opportunity to see other colors (or UV patterns potentially implied by colors/patterns), what is their reaction to this information? Is Sambava > Nosey Be? The species problem is so messy. I'd say, if different type localities can breed I am comfortable with that. And, I assume they can so it then becomes a question of whether certain "strategies" win out.

For disclosure, I'm looking at sexual selection models in a philosophical context for a class grad class. Chameleons are interesting for this.
 

the cw

Member
I am not aware of any sexual selection work done on panther chameleons, particularly not anything with regard to coloration. There has been some sexual selection work done on other species (Furcifer labordi, F. verrucosus, etc.), but this mostly focused on body size and morphological traits.

Chris
Thanks for the info Chris. I saw those other studies and wanted to be sure I was not missing anything. Seems like panther chameleons would be a good research project for work on sexual selection.
 
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