Title
Seeing through the lizards trick : do avian predators avoid autotomous tails? Seeing through the lizards trick : do avian predators avoid autotomous tails?
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
Central European journal of biology. - Place of publication unknown
Volume/pages
6(2011) :2 , p. 293-299
ISSN
1895-104X
ISI
000287457200018
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Counter-adaptations of predators towards their prey are a far less investigated phenomenon in predator-prey interactions. Caudal autotomy is generally considered an effective last-resort mechanism for evading predators. However, in victim-exploiter relationships, the efficacy of a strategy will obviously depend on the antagonists ability to counter it. In the logic of the predator-prey arms race, one would expect predators to develop attack strategies that minimize the chance of autotomy of the prey and damage on the predator. We tested whether avian predators preferred grasping lizards by their head. We constructed plasticine models of the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula) and placed them in natural habitat of the species. Judging from counts of beak marks on the models, birds preferentially attack the head and might also avoid the tail and limb regions. While a preference for the head might not necessarily demonstrate tail and limb avoidance, this topic needs further exploration because it suggests that even unspecialised avian predators may see through the lizards trick-of-the-tail. This result may have implications for our understanding of the evolution of this peculiar defensive system and the loss or decreased tendency to shed the tail on island systems with the absence of terrestrial predators.
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