Justin P. Henningsen

Photo of Justin Henningsen

PhD Candidate

B.S., North Arizona University, 2006

Advisor: Duncan J. Irschick
Dissertation/thesis title: Performance and signaling in the green anole lizard

Research Interests

My research interests are broad and include evolution, ecology, and animal behavior. My dissertation research uses behavioral, ecological, and physiological approaches to study sexual selection and sexual signals in Anolis lizards.

Sexually dimorphic traits are ubiquitous and varied across animal taxa. Darwin proposed that such traits are the result of sexual selection. Much effort has been put forth developing and testing models of sexual selection and sexual signaling, but there is still great debate over the mechanisms responsible. Here a male green anole produces a signal. What is the purpose of the signal and how do its characteristics affect the signaler’s fitness?

In the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis), there is a significant positive correlation between dewlap size and maximum bite force. This suggests that dewlap size may be a reliable signal of bite force. I am using experimental and observational approaches to determine whether male green anoles use dewlap size to assess conspecifics, and how signal and performance capacity interact to determine dominance, survival, and reproductive success.