Rock-Paper-Scissors Games in Lizards and Other Vertebrates

Sinervo, Barry

Department of Ecology and Evolution

University of California at Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

I will discuss the generality of the rock-paper-scissors systems in lizards across all families of the world. In the rock-paper-scissors game each strategy beats another, but is beaten by a third. I show how mate preferences of females become associated with the male RPS game, and how it can "speciate" to reduced mating systems (with fewer color morphs). Thus the RPS game rules the evolution of color types in lizards, and all kinds of life history strategies and mating system strategies. I also generalize the RPS game to ecosystems. For example, a new co-evolutionary model describes predator/prey interactions with learning. The evolutionary model is referred to as ABC-NR after conspicuous and toxic aposematic (A) types, harmless Batesian (B) mimics, and Cryptic (C) types in the salamander prey, while predators are either naïve (N) or responsive (R) to aposematic signals in the avian predators. We have studied the ecosystem RPS in salamanders of the genus Ensatina (and their avian predators), famous for its ring-species evolutionary dynamic in the Coast Range, Transverse Range and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges of California. Also, I will discuss an RPS game involving mountain king snakes, coral snakes, and their avian predators. Ro-Cham-Bo is everywhere!