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Escape Behaviour of Juvenile Psammodromus Algirus Lizards: Constraint of or Compensation for Limitations in Body Size?

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We compared the escape behaviour of juvenile and adult Psammodromus algirus lizards, by using data of escape performance in the laboratory and field observations of escape behaviour. We specifically examined whether a differential escape response is a constraint of body size, or whether juveniles behave differently in order to maximize their escape possibilities taking into account their size-related speed limitations. In the laboratory, juvenile lizards were slower than adult lizards, and escaped during less time and to shorter distances, even when removing the effect of body size. In the field, juveniles allowed closer approaches and after a short flight usually did not hide immediately, but did so after successive short runs if the attack persists. Approach distance of juveniles was not affected by habitat, but initial and total flight distances were shorter in covered microhabitats. There was no significant effect of environmental temperature on approach and initial flight distances of juveniles. However, the total flight distances were significantly correlated with air temperatures.

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional dc Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain

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