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Responses to prey and plant chemicals by three iguanian lizards: relationship to plants in the diet

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We examined responses of three iguanian lizards, the phrynosomatid Sceloporus poinsettii and the tropidurids Tropidurus hispidus and Phymaturus punae, to prey chemicals and plant chemicals. When chemical stimuli were presented on cotton swabs or on ceramic tiles, neither S. poinsettii nor T. hispidus discriminated among prey, plant, and control stimuli. In contrast, an individual of P. punae discriminated both prey and plant chemicals from control stimuli in swab tests, typically biting swabs bearing prey or plant cues. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that plant chemical discrimination evolves in herbivorous iguanians such as P. punae. Sceloporus poinsettii, which appears to be entirely insectivorous at some times, but eats substantial quantities of flowers at others, did not discriminate among the stimuli. Because all previously tested herbivores and omnivores responded strongly to prey and plant chemicals, the absence of such discriminations by S. poinsettii raises questions about the degree and regularity of herbivory that may be required for plant chemical discrimination to evolve. The results extend the absence of prey chemical discrimination in ambush foragers to T. hispidus.


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