Islet tameness: Escape behavior and refuge use in populations of the Balearic lizard (Podarcis lilfordi) exposed to differing predation pressure

William E. Cooper, Dror Hawlena, Valentín Pérez-Mellado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Prey often exhibit reduced escape behavior on islands where predators are absent or scarce. Models of escape and refuge use predict that prey from populations having lower predation pressure have shortened flight initiation distance (FID; distance between a predator and a prey when escape begins), reduced distance fled and tendency to enter refuge, and shortened hiding time before emerging from refuge. By ourselves simulating approaching predators, we tested these predictions for two populations of the Balearic lizard, Podarcis lilfordi (Müller, 1927), on the islets of Rei (higher predation pressure) and Aire (lower) adjacent to Menorca. FID, distance fled, and hiding time were shorter and probability of entering refuge was lower on Aire than on Rei, confirming all predictions. All effect sizes were large, indicating major differences in antipredatory behavior between islets. These findings are consistent with data for other lizards on FID and limited data on distance fled and refuge entry. The effect of predation pressure on hiding time is a novel finding. Our results and those of previous studies suggest that relaxation of predation pressure leads to reduced natural selection for maintenance of antipredatory behavior at all stages of predator-prey interactions over a relatively short time span.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)912-919
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume87
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

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