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TRADEOFFS BETWEEN PREDATION RISK AND FEEDING IN A LIZARD, THE BROAD-HEADED SKINK (EUMECES LATICEPS)

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Foraging, feeding, and escape decisions may all be modified by threat of predation. Field experiments using a human simulated predator show that a lizard, the broad - headed skink, Eumeces laticeps, alters several aspects of feeding behavior in ways suggesting tradeoffs between predation risk and feeding. When food (cricket) was closer to the predator, the lizards more frequently did not attack it, and often retreated to safety before consuming it, reducing the duration of exposure to predation. The probability of attacking a cricket decreased with distance of the lizard from refuge, reflecting greater risk due to increased time required to reach refuge. Latency to attack increased with distance of the lizard from refuge, suggesting that lizards assessed the risk as acceptable after observing the predator's continued immobility. Large crickets were attacked with higher probability and shorter latency than small crickets, indicating that greater risk was acceptable for greater energetic benefit. The lizards more frequently carried large than small crickets to refuges before eating them, reducing duration of exposure because handling time was greater for larger crickets. Smaller crickets were consumed where captured, again indicating modification of feeding behavior in response to predation risk. The skinks also reduced risk by reducing handling time when closer to the predator. Escape was delayed until a predator approached closer when lizards were eating than when not eating. This delay may reflect a tradeoff between predation risk and acquisition of food.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA

10.1163/156853900502583
/content/journals/10.1163/156853900502583
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853900502583
2000-09-01
2017-08-22

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