Many lizard and amphisbaenian lineages possess follicular glands in the dermis of the inner thighs and/or the area anterior to the cloaca. These tubular glands produce a holocrine secretion that finds its way to the external world through pore-bearing scales (femoral and/or preanal pores). Secretions are composed of proteins and many lipophilic compounds that may function as chemosignals in lizard and amphisbaenian communication. In recent years, we have begun to develop an understanding of the adaptive significance of these secretions, and they are currently thought to play an important role in a variety of processes in these animals. While it appears that epidermal gland secretions function in intra- and interspecific recognition and territoriality, research has focused largely on their role in mate assessment. Despite these recent studies, our knowledge on the true role of the chemicals found in epidermal secretions remains poorly studied, and there are many possible avenues for future research on this topic. Here, we review the literature on the follicular epidermal glands of non-ophidian squamates and provide a first taxon-wide overview of their distribution.
Epidermal glands in Squamata: morphology and histochemistry of the pre-cloacal glands in Amphisbaena alba (Amphisbaenia).
Chemosensory discrimination of familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics by lizards: implications of field spatial relationships between males.
Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.50:
Interpopulational variation in chemosensory responses to selected steroids from femoral secretions of male lizards, Podarcis hispanica, mirrors population differences in chemical signals.
GabirotM.LópezP.MartínJ.de FraipontM.HeulinB.SinervoB.ClobertJ. (2008):
Chemical composition of femoral secretions of oviparous and viviparous types of male common lizards Lacerta vivipara.
Biochem. Syst. Ecol.36:
Differences in chemical signals may explain species recognition between an island lizard Podarcis atrata, and related mainland lizards P. hispanica.
Biochem. Syst. Ecol.38:
Systematics of the Podarcis hispanicus complex (Sauria, Lacertidae) III: Valid nomina of the western and central Iberian forms.
GugliemettiC.PraetJ.RangarajanJ.R.VreysR.de VochtN.MaesF.VerhoyeM.PonsaertP.van der LindenA.M. (2014):
Multimodal imaging of subventricular zone neural stem/progenitor cells in the cuprizone mouse model reveals increased neurogenic potential for the olfactory bulb pathway, but no contribution to remyelination of the corpus callosum.
Morphology of the femoral glands in the lizard Ameiva ameiva (Teiidae) and their possible role in semiochemical dispersion.
Sexual dimorphism and interpopulation differences in lizard hind limb length: locomotor performance or chemical signaling?Biol. J. Linn. Soc.104:
Secretions of pre-anal glands of house-dwelling geckos (family: Gekkonidae) contain monoglycerides and 1,3-alkanediol. A comparative chemical ecology study.
Biochem. Syst. Ecol.44:
Scent marking pheromones in lizards: cholesterol and long chain alcohols elicit avoidance and aggression in male Acanthodactylus boskianus (Squamata: Lacertidae).
New compounds, sexual differences, and age-related variations in the femoral gland secretions of the lacertid lizard Acanthodactylus boskianus.
Biochem. Syst. Ecol.39:
A developmental perspective on developmental instability: theory, models, and mechanisms. In:
Developmental Instability: Causes and Consequences p.
PolakM. Ed. Oxford University PressUK.
Relative contribution of dietary carotenoids and vitamin E to visual and chemical sexual signals of male Iberian green lizards: an experimental test.
Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.68:
LinnaeusC. (1785): Systema naturae per regna tria naturae secundum classes ordines genera species cum characteribus differentiis synonymis locis. Tomus 1. Editio decima reformata. Holmiae: Impensis Direct. Laurentii Salvii Sweden.
Locomotor capacity and dominance in male lizards Lacerta monticola: a tradeoff between survival and reproductive success?Biol. J. Linn. Soc.77:
LouwS.BurgerB.V.Le RouxM.Van WykJ.H. (2007):
Lizard epidermal gland secretions I: Chemical characterization of the femoral gland secretion of the sungazer, Cordylus giganteus.
J. Chem. Ecol.33:
LouwS.BurgerB.V.Le RouxM.Van WykJ.H. (2011):
Lizard epidermal gland secretions II: Chemical characterization of the generation gland secretion of the sungazer, Cordylus giganteus.
J. Nat. Prod.74:
Interpopulational differences in chemical composition and chemosensory recognition of femoral gland secretions of male lizards Podarcis hispanica: implications for sexual isolation in a species complex.
Multimodal sexual signals in male ocellated lizards Lacerta lepida: vitamin E in scent and green coloration may signal male quality in different sensory channels.
MartínJ.CastillaA.LópezP.JaidahM.MohtarR. (2012): Lipophilic compounds in femoral gland secretions of spiny-tailed lizard dhub Uromastyx aegyptia microlepis (Reptilia Agamidae) from the Qatar desert. Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum EEP53.
Inter-island variation in femoral secretions of the Balearic lizard, Podarcis lilfordi (Lacertidae).
Biochem. Syst. Ecol.50:
Characterization, synthesis, and behavioral response to the sex attractiveness pheromones of the red-sided garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis.
J. Chem. Ecol.16:
Femoral secretions and copulatory plugs convey chemical information about male identity and dominance status in Iberian rock-lizards (Lacerta monticola).
Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.2:
Information content is more important than sensory system or physical distance in guiding the long-term evolutionary relationship between signaling modalities in Sceloporus lizards.
Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.67:
Chemical polymorphism in male femoral gland secretions matches polymorphic coloration in common wall lizards (Podarcis muralis).