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Escape tactics in the lizard Meroles cuneirostris

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Successful escape from predators may involve the use of multiple tactics. The wedge-snouted desert lizard (Meroles cuneirostris) flees from predators through a series of discrete moves with each move representing a specific manoeuvre type. By simulating the approach of a predator, we examined the role of sex and age (adult vs. juvenile) on the manoeuvre types used during escape, as well as the relationship between the number of moves needed to escape and the number of manoeuvre types employed. The eight defined manoeuvre types were used by all demographic groups, though there were differences among groups in the tendency to use certain manoeuvre types. In general, there was a strong difference in how adults and juveniles fled from predators. The number of manoeuvre types used by a lizard tended to increase with the number of moves required to escape and adults more readily added new manoeuvre types to an escape sequence. Demographic differences in escape behaviour might result from differing predation pressures incurred by juveniles and adults, and might also be related to the ontogeny of escape behaviour.

Affiliations: 1: Erell Institute, 2808 Meadow Drive, Lawrence, KS 66047, USA


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