Activity and body orientation of Gallotia galloti in different habitats and daily times

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Abstract

In lizards, site selection is related to the acquisition of resources such as refuges, mates or prey, but also to the exploitation of sites suitable for thermoregulation. The latter process may be affected by lizard posture and body axis orientation in relation to the sun as a way to optimize heat exchange throughout the day. Specific postures and body orientations could also contribute to more efficient signal transmission in social contexts. In this paper we analyze activity and body axis orientation of adult males and females of the lacertid Gallotia galloti in two localities of Tenerife with different structural habitats. We performed transects at both sampling localities in the morning and at midday during May and June of three years (2002-2004). The numbers of lizards detected per unit time during transects at both localities were similar; however, significantly more males than females were detected. Moreover, more lizards were found oriented parallel or perpendicular to the sun than in alternative (oblique) orientations. Heating rates were not different for copper lizard models oriented parallel or perpendicular to the sun, neither in the morning nor at midday, and there was no significant relationship between air temperature and lizard body orientation. This suggests that lizard body orientation is not constrained by thermoregulatory requirements. We discuss alternative hypotheses and conclude that body axis orientation in G. galloti lizards may reflect a compromise between the conflicting demands imposed by thermoregulation and social communication.

Amphibia-Reptilia

Publication of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica

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