Group size and termite consumption in the armadillo lizard, Cordylus cataphractus

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
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  • 1 Department of Botany & Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag XI, Matieland 7602, South Africa
  • | 2 Department of Botany & Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag XI, Matieland 7602, South Africa;, Email: pnm@sun.ac.za
  • | 3 Department of Botany & Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag XI, Matieland 7602, South Africa

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Abstract

We investigated possible differences in the consumption of termites (Microhodotermes viator) by individuals in different sized groups of Cordylus cataphractus during different times of the year. Scats, collected once a month from small (2-3 individuals), medium (4-10 individuals) and large C. cataphractus groups (more than 10 individuals), from January to December 2005, were analysed for the presence of termite head material. We found termite consumption to be generally greater in larger than smaller groups throughout the year, but only significantly so during the dry months, March and April. Individuals in all group categories utilized termites throughout the year, but consumption was low at the end of winter, a time when general insect abundance is high. We conclude that termitophagy is important to individuals living in large groups, particularly during the dry period of the year, most probably to reduce intragroup competition for food.

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