Lizard tail-loss rates on islands are not governed by longer life spans

in Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


We recently studied whether, on islands, predation or intraspecific aggression is the main driver of tail-loss, a common defense mechanism among lizards. We concluded the latter was the stronger driver (Itescu et al. 2017). Werner (2017) suggested that we failed to falsify an alternative hypothesis. He claims that on low-predation islands lizards live longer. Thus while tail loss is caused by predators, it accumulates over longer periods, resulting in overall higher tail-loss rates in populations experiencing weak predation. Here we test this hypothesis and three other arguments he presented, and fail to support them. We therefore adhere to our original conclusion that intraspecific aggression is the main driver of lizard tail loss on islands.

Lizard tail-loss rates on islands are not governed by longer life spans

in Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution



EN Arnold . (1988). Caudal autotomy as a defense. In: Biology of the Reptilia. New York: Alan R. Liss. pp. 235273.

PW Bateman PA Fleming . (2009). To cut a long tail short: a review of lizard caudal autotomy studies carried out over the last 20 years. J Zool. 277 pp. 114.

KM Brock PA Bednekoff P Pafilis J Foufopoulos . (2015). Evolution of antipredator behavior in an island lizard species, Podarcis erhardii (Reptilia: Lacertidae): The sum of all fears? Evolution. 69 pp. 216231.

A. Cattaneo (2010). Note eco-morfologiche su alcune specie ofidiche Egee, con particolare riferimento alle popolazioni delle Cicladi centro-orientali (Reptilia). Natural. Sicil. 34 pp. 319350.

DG Chapple R Swain . (2002). Effect of caudal autotomy on locomotor performance in a viviparous skinkNiveoscincus metallicus. Funct Ecol. 16 pp. 817825.

WE Cooper I Dimopoulos P Pafilis . (2015). Sex, age, and population density affect aggressive behaviors in island lizards promoting cannibalism. Ethology 121 pp. 260269.

CM Donihue KM Brock J Foufopoulos A Herrel . (2016). Feed or fight: testing the impact of food availability and intraspecific aggression on the functional ecology of an island lizard. Funct Ecol. 30 pp. 566575.

Y Itescu R Schwarz C Donihue A Slavenko SA Roussos K Sagonas ED Valakos J Foufopoulos P Pafilis S Meiri . (2018). Inconsistent patterns of body size evolution in co-occurring island reptiles. Global Ecol Biogeogr. In press.

Y Itescu R Schwarz S Meiri P Pafilis . (2017). Intra-specific competition, not predation, drives lizard tail loss on islands. J Anim Ecol 86 pp. 6674.

Y Itescu R Schwarz M Moses P Pafilis S Meiri . (2016). Record sizes for the Turkish house gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, from Aegean islandsGreece. Herpetol. Bull. 138 pp. 2426.

S Meiri AE Kadison M Novosolov P Pafilis J Foufopoulos Y Itescu P Raia D Pincheira-Donoso . (2014). The number of competitor species is unlinked to sexual dimorphism. J Anim Ecol 83 pp. 13021312.

P Pafilis J Foufopoulos N Poulakakis P Lymberakis ED Valakos . (2009a). Tail shedding in island lizards [Lacertidae, Reptilia]: decline of antipredator defenses in relaxed predation environments. Evolution 63 pp. 12621278.

P Pafilis S Meiri J Foufopoulos E Valakos . (2009b). Intraspecific competition and high food availability are associated with insular gigantism in a lizard. Naturwissenschaften 96 pp. 11071113.

R. Schwarz (2016). Evolution of life history traits in lizards: A local and global approach. M.Sc. thesisSchool of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University .

YL Werner . (2017). Commentary on the factors governing the rate of tail loss in island lizards. Isr J Ecol Evol. In press.


  • View in gallery

    Mediodactylus kotschyi specimens demonstrating body size differences across island populations: left – a young individual from Amorgos Island; middle – an adult female from Amorgos Island; right – an adult female from Gavdos Island. Specimens are from Natural History Museum Crete. Photo taken by Yuval Itescu.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 6 6 6
Full Text Views 7 7 7
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0