Inter-island variation in femoral secretions of the Balearic lizard, Podarcis lilfordi (Lacertidae)

José Martín, Pilar López, Mario Garrido, Ana Pérez-Cembranos, Valentín Pérez-Mellado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Many lizards use femoral gland secretions in intraspecific communication. Although there is a consistent interspecific variation in chemical composition of secretions, considerable variation is also often found between populations, which may affect conspecifc recognition and lead to speciation processes. Balearic lizards (Podarcis lilfordi) are currently distributed only in several isolated islets offshore of the main islands with different environmental conditions (vegetation, diet, density of population, etc). Also, there is a high genetic variability between populations. We examined whether there was a similar variation in the composition of the femoral secretions of male lizards, and which could be the causes of such variation. By using GC-MS analyses, we found 75 lipophilic compounds in femoral gland secretions of male P. lilfordi from three representative island populations. Main compounds were steroids (94.4%), mainly cholesterol, but we also found alkanes, ketones, waxy esters, squalene, carboxylic acids and their ethyl esters, alcohols and other minor compounds. However, there were clear differences between populations with respect to the number and relative proportions of compounds. Using the patterns of presence and abundance of compounds in secretions it is possible to predict the population of origin of a lizard. We discuss how these differences could be explained considering genetic and environmental differences between populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Systematics and Ecology
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Femoral secretions
  • Interpopulational variations
  • Lizards
  • Podarcis lilfordi
  • Reptilia
  • Steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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