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Antipredatory behaviour of a mountain lizard towards the chemical cues of its predatory snakes

In: Behaviour
Authors:
Zaida Ortega Department of Animal Biology, University of Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, 37007, Spain
Laboratório de Ecologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, CEP 79070-900, Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

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Abraham Mencía Department of Animal Biology, University of Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, 37007, Spain
Laboratório de Zoologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, CEP 79070-900, Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do SulBrazil

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Valentín Pérez-Mellado Department of Animal Biology, University of Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, 37007, Spain

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Abstract

The ability to early detect a potential predator is essential for survival. The potential of Iberolacerta cyreni lizards to discriminate between chemical cues of their two predatory snakes Coronella austriaca (a non-venomous active-hunter saurophagous specialist) and Vipera latastei (a venomous sit-and-wait generalist) was evaluated herein. A third snake species, Natrix maura, which does not prey on lizards, was used as a pungent control. Thus, the behaviour of I. cyreni was studied regarding four treatments: (1) C. austriaca scent, (2) V. latastei scent, (3) N. maura scent and (4) odourless control. Lizards showed antipredator behaviour (such as slow-motion and tail waving) to C. austriaca and V. latastei chemicals. The antipredatory response was similar for both predators. This ability to react with an intensive behavioural pattern to the chemical cues of their predatory snakes may prevent lizards from being detected, and, if detected, dissuade the predator from beginning a pursuit.

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