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Age, sex and escape behaviour in the Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) and the Mountain Spiny Lizard (S. jarrovii), with a review of age and sex effects on escape by lizards

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Escape behaviour often differs between sexes, reproductive states and ages. Escape theory predicts that flight initiation distance (FID = predator–prey distance when escape begins) increases as predation risk and fitness increase, and decreases as cost of escaping increases. Similar predictions hold for distance fled and refuge entry, suggesting that age and sex differences in escape behaviour may occur when risk, fitness, and opportunity costs differ. I studied such differences in two lizard species and reviewed relevant literature on escape by lizards. In Sceloporus virgatus no difference occurred between sexes or female reproductive states in FID, distance fled, distance from refuge, or probability of entering refuge. In S. jarrovii juveniles had shorter FID and distance fled than adults; juveniles were closer than females to refuge, but this did not affect FID or distance fled. Juveniles were more likely than adults to be on rocks and use them as refuges. The literature review showed that sexual dimorphism in FID occurs in about 1/5 of species (male FID usually > female FID), but distance fled differed between sexes in only 1 of 21 species. Juveniles had shorter FID than adults in all of five species; the relationship between age and distance fled was highly variable. Reasons for patterns of age/sex differences are discussed. Because age and sex differences in these factors and escape strategy can alter multiple components affecting optimality, sometimes in opposite ways, these factors and escape strategy must be known to predict effects of age, sex and reproductive state on escape.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA;, Email:


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