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Morphological traits affect escape behaviour of the Balearic lizards (Podarcis lilfordi)

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Escape theory predicts that a prey should start escaping (flight initiation distance = FID) from a predator when the costs of fleeing and the cost staying are equal or until future fitness is maximized. Consequently, prey escape performances and current reproductive asset can affect FID. We tested effects of body condition, morphology, and whether the tail was regenerated or original on FID in the Balearic lizard (Podarcis lilfordi) by ourselves simulating predators. Lizards with better body condition had longer FID and lizards with longer intact tails had shorter FID. Lizards with regenerated tail presented shorter FID than lizards with intact tails. These results suggest that impaired escape performance is counterbalanced by fitness costs of tail regeneration or by alteration of escape behaviour. The weak association between morphology, body condition and FID suggest that escape performances and asset protection have relatively small effect on P. lilfordi escape decisions.

Affiliations: 1: School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, 370 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511, USA;, Email: dror.hawlena@yale.edu; 2: Departamento de Biología Animal, Universidad de Salamanca, 37071 Salamanca, Spain; 3: Department of Biology, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA

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