Unveiling a spatial tail breakage outbreak in a lizard population

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Many ecological attributes of organisms vary spatially. This strict dependency upon space generally arises by individuals occupying places with the necessary resources and conditions for survival. For lizards, losing the tail is an evolved mechanism that allows them to escape predators or to avoid aggressive intraspecific agonistic interactions. We evaluated the spatial relation of tail loss in a population of the lizard Tropidurus montanus. Our results support the occurrence of a spatial cluster of autotomized lizards. However, we cannot relate the cluster formation to the crowding of neighbouring lizards nor to individuals’ body size. Tail loss in lizards is known to be related to predatory attacks or intraspecific aggression, and we now show that tail autotomy occurs in a non-random way regarding space, and thus is also related to the space occupied by individuals in populations.

Amphibia-Reptilia

Publication of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica

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Figures

  • Spatial distribution of individuals of the lizard Tropidurus montanus (dots and stars). All circled symbols represent lizards that had lost their tails (autotomized). Circled stars correspond to the tail loss spatial cluster.

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