Pedro Lopes Moreira
Post-doctoral researcher
Centro de Biologia Ambiental
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Edifício C2, Piso 3, Sala 2.3.12 – Campo Grande
1749-016 Lisboa
Phone: (+351) 217500000 (ext.22312)

Research Interests

I use the Iberian rock lizard (Lacerta monticola) as a model system to address the evolution of behavioural, morphological and physiological traits under sexual and sperm competition selective pressures. My research has focused on the role of copulatory plugs and sperm displacement on the outcome of sperm competition and on the role of femoral gland secretions in signalling chemically male social status. I have also experimented on the effects of fungal pathogens on lizard egg mortality and early embryo hatching and on the use of conspecific fecal chemicals by juveniles for their spatial decisions. Currently, I am running a project aiming to test for the genetic benefits accrued by promiscuous females and the mechanisms of female sperm choice in Iberian rock lizards. This project will couple observational fieldwork on the species genetic mating system with experimental research using lizards breeding in captivity.

List of Publications

Moreira PL, López P, Martín J 2008 Discrimination of conspecific fecal chemicals and spatial decisions in juvenile Iberian rock lizards (Lacerta monticola). Acta Ethol pdf

Moreira PL, Nunes VL, Martín J, Paulo OS 2007. Copulatory plugs do not assure high first male fertilisation success: sperm displacement in a lizard. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62: 281-288 pdf

Martín J, Moreira PL, López P 2007 Status-signalling chemical badges in male Iberian rock lizards. Funct Ecol 21: 568-576 pdf

, López P, Martín J 2006 Femoral secretions and copulatory plugs convey chemical information about male identity and dominance status in Iberian rock lizards (Lacerta monticola). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 60: 166-174 pdf

, Barata MST 2005 Egg mortality and early embryo hatching caused by fungal infection of Iberian rock lizard (Lacerta monticola) clutches. Herpetol J 15: 265-272 pdf

, Birkhead TR 2004 Copulatory plug displacement and prolonged copulation in the Iberian rock lizard (Lacerta monticola). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 56: 290-297 pdf

, Birkhead TR 2003 Copulatory plugs in the Iberian rock lizard do not prevent insemination by rival males. Funct Ecol 17: 796-802 pdf

PL, Almeida AP, Rosa HD, Paulo OS, Crespo EG 1999 Bases para a conservação da lagartixa-da-montanha, Lacerta monticola. Estudos de Biologia e Conservação da Natureza nº 25. ICN – Lisboa (ISBN: 972-8402-32-5).

Brito-Abreu F, Rosa HD, Paulo OS, Moreira PL, Almeida, AP, Crespo EG 1996 Morphological distinction of the Iberian midwife toads: Alytes obstetricans may have two metacarpal tubercles.
Amphibia-Reptilia 17: 67-70



Study Species

Iberian rock lizards are small lacertids that inhabit high mountains and northwest coastal regions of the Iberian Peninsula and comprise several species and subspecies. In Portugal, Lacerta monticola is restricted to a single population at Serra da Estrela mountain and is distributed between 1400 meters and the mountain top at 1993 meters of altitude. This population is estimated to range 57 Km2 and to comprise 400 000 to 700 000 individuals. Lizards are active from March-May to October-November. Adult males emerge from winter dormancy 1-2 weeks before adult females and the mating season starts soon after, once males have shed the skin. Males are territorial, engage into frequent fights, and mate guard females. Males and females are sexually promiscuous. Females copulate 4-8 times during 1 week of sexual receptivity, frequently with several different males, and produce a single clutch of 2-12 eggs per year. Egg laying occurs in June-July, females do not attend the eggs, and offspring hatch in August-September. Lizards reach sexual maturity when they attain 64-70 mm snout-vent-length, at 1-2 years of age at lower altitudes of the population range and at 3-4 years at the mountain top.

Iberian rock lizards are suited for addressing the role of traits that putatively evolve through sexual and sperm competition selective pressures. The characteristics of its open habitat and high population densities at rocky outcrops allow conducting detailed field observations on the species mating system. Moreover, this species may be easily bred in captivity, thus allowing conduction of experimental research under controlled conditions.





Curriculum vitae pdf