Does reproductive state affect a lizard's behavior toward predator chemical cues?

S. J Downes, Dirk Bauwens

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    We examined how reproductive state affected shifts in behavior of adult female Podarcis sicula toward chemical cues from a natural snake predator (Coronella austriaca). The oviparous P. sicula lizards do not experience a major physical burden during reproduction, but gravid females substantially increase duration of basking. Therefore, gravid lizards are likely to experience a greater risk of mortality because they are exposed to predators for longer periods. Both gravid and non-gravid females shifted patterns of locomotion when confronted with snake chemical cues, but the change was notably larger when females were non-gravid. When non-gravid, lizards responded to predator scent by increasing the number of stand-ups and starts, while such a response was not observed when females were gravid. By contrast, gravid lizards clearly reduced the time spent basking in the presence of predator scent, whereas no change in basking behavior was observed when females were non-gravid. Thus, females exhibit differential behavioral responses to predator scents that is dependent on reproductive state.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)444-450
    Number of pages7
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    Thematic list

    • Amphibians and reptiles

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B005-zoology


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