Male-biased predation of western green lizards by Eurasian kestrels
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Die Naturwissenschaften / Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften [München] - Berlin
, p. 1015-1020
Selective predation can be an important force driving the evolution of organisms. In particular, sex-biased predation is expected to have implications for sexual selection, sex allocation and population dynamics. In this study, we analysed sex differences in the predation of the western green lizard (Lacerta bilineata) by the Eurasian kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) during the reproductive season. In addition, we investigated whether the rate of predation differed during the 8-year study period and among the three habitats studied. We collected lizard remains from nest boxes of kestrels. Freshly killed lizards were sexed by visual inspection, whilst the sex of head remains was assigned by analysing the cephalic scale morphology using geometric morphometrics. Our results show that the risk of being predated by a kestrel in our population was overall about 3.55 times higher for males than for females. To our knowledge this is the first study showing a male-biased predation in a lizard species. The selective predation of males was consistent between years over the 8-year study period (19992006) and also consistent between the three types of kestrel hunting habitat. Overall predation rates on lizards differed between habitats, depending on the year. We propose that the observed sex-biased predation is mainly due to sex differences in lizard behaviour.