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Quantitative tracking of change in tail color in blue-tailed skink (Plestiodon elegans) throughout its growth cycle
  • Chen Yang,
  • Siheng Chen,
  • Jie Wang
Chen Yang
Southwest Minzu University
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Siheng Chen
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications
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Jie Wang
Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Ontogenetic color change in animals is an interesting evolution-related phenomenon that has been studied by evolutionary biologists for decades. However, the performance of quantitative and continuous color measurements throughout the life cycle of animals is a challenge. To understand the rhythm of change in tail color and sexual dichromatism, we used a spectrometer to measure the tail color of blue-tailed skink (Plestiodon elegans) from birth to sexual maturity. Lab color space was selected due to its simple, fast, and accurate and depends on the visual sense of the observer for measuring the tail color of skinks. A strong relationship was observed between color indexes (values of L*, a*, b*) and growth time of skink. The luminance of tail color decreased from juveniles to adults in both sexes. Moreover, we observed differences in color rhythms between the sexes, which may be influenced by different behavioral strategies employed by them. This study provides continuous measurements of change in tail color in skinks from juveniles to adults and offers insights into their sex-based differences. Our findings explain the potential factors that drive dichromatism between the sexes of lizards and is expected to serve as a reference for future studies that explore possible mechanisms of ontogenetic color change in reptiles.
31 Mar 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
01 Apr 2023Submission Checks Completed
01 Apr 2023Assigned to Editor
03 Apr 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
17 Apr 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
21 Apr 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
15 May 20231st Revision Received
15 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
15 May 2023Assigned to Editor
15 May 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 May 2023Editorial Decision: Accept