Cooperate or compete? Influence of sex and body size on sheltering behaviour in the wall lizard, Podarcis muralis

in Behaviour
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Reptile sheltering behaviour, despite profound life history ramifications, remains poorly investigated. Whether or not individuals share a suitable shelter or, conversely, exclude conspecifics may depend on associated costs (resource partitioning, sexual harassment, disease or parasite contamination) and benefits (predation risk dilution, thermal resilience, information sharing). We performed two experiments on field caught wall lizards (Podarcis muralis), a highly territorial species, to investigate the relative roles of sex and body size in night sheltering. In the first experiment, random pairs of lizards were offered two identical shelters. Lizards either shared a shelter, or sheltered separately. In the second experiment, different random pairs of lizards were offered only one shelter so as to elicit a share or compete response. Body size and sex both appeared as significant drivers for sheltering patterns. Unexpectedly, wall lizards often chose to share shelters. When only one shelter (too small to accommodate two adult lizards) was available, many lizards rejected the sheltering option in preference for aggregation. Such aggregative behaviour was not sex dependant, and may reflect thermoregulatory or anti-predatory benefits. Our results nevertheless suggest that cooperative behaviour may exist in wall lizards.

Cooperate or compete? Influence of sex and body size on sheltering behaviour in the wall lizard, Podarcis muralis

in Behaviour

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Figures

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    Results of the two shelters experiment analysed at the pair level. (Top) Means ± SD of the difference in snout-vent length for male–male (‘MM’), female–female (‘FF’) and male–female (‘MF’) pairs and the different experiment outcomes (the two individuals were found under the same shelter, ‘together’, or under different shelters, ‘apart’). (Bottom) GLM predictions (lines) of the test outcome as a function of SVL difference, for the three types of sex combinations; dots represent observed values (0 = apart, 1 = together). This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

  • View in gallery

    Results of the two shelters experiment analysed at the individual level. (Top) Means ± SD of body mass for males and females and the different experiment outcomes (the two individuals were found under the same shelter, ‘together’, or under different shelters, ‘apart’). (Bottom) GLM predictions (lines) of the test outcome as a function of body mass and sex; dots represent observed values (0 = apart, 1 = together). This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

  • View in gallery

    Results of the one shelter experiment analysed at the pair level: frequency of tests that resulted in one individual sheltered and one not sheltered (‘exclusion’) for the three types of combinations of sexes (male–male (MM), female–female (FF) and male–female (MF)). Bars represent the standard errors of the predictions of the corresponding GLM.

  • View in gallery

    Results of the one shelter experiment analysed at the individual level. (Top) GLM predictions (lines) of the test outcome as a function of body mass; dots represent observed values (0 = both inside, 1 = exclusion). (Bottom) Frequency of tests that resulted in one individual sheltered and one not sheltered (‘exclusion’) for males and females; bars represent the standard errors of the predictions of the corresponding GLM.

  • View in gallery

    Results of the one shelter experiment in the case of exclusion outcomes (one lizard sheltered one not sheltered). (Top) GLM predictions (lines) of the test outcome as a function of body mass; dots represent observed values (0 = individual outside, 1 = individual sheltered). (Bottom) Frequency of tests in which an individual sheltered, depending on its sex; bars represent the standard errors of the predictions of the corresponding GLM.

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