Magnitude of food reward affects escape behavior and acceptable risk in Balearic lizards, Podarcis lilfordi

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


During encounters with predators, prey must balance the degree of risk against the loss of fitness-enhancing benefits such as feeding and social activities. Most studies of tradeoffs between risk and cost of escaping have measured flight initiation distance and time to emerge from refuge, for which theory provides robustly supported predictions. Tradeoffs involving other aspects of encounters, including distance fled and time between escape and return to a food source, have received little theoretical or empirical attention. By adapting models of flight initiation distance and time between entry into refuge and emergence, we predict effects of predation risk and cost on distance fled and time to return to a source of benefit after fleeing. Acting as simulated predators that approached at a fixed speed, we conducted an experimental field study to test the hypotheses that flight initiation distance, distance fled, and time to return to food by Balearic lizards (Podarcis lilfordi) decrease with the presence and amount of insect food. Predictions of the models were strongly supported, including those for distance fled and return time, but predictions for other cost factors and predation risk factors remain to be tested.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)554-559
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by grant REN2003 08432 CO2 02 from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science to V.P.M. and by the Pippert Science Research Scholar award to W.E.C.


  • Antipredatory behavior
  • Approach distances
  • Escape behavior
  • Flight initiation distance
  • Squamata


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