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Effects of recent movement, starting distance and other risk factors on escape behaviour by two phrynosomatid lizards

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Cost–benefit models of escape behaviour predict that flight initiation distance (FID, predator-prey distance when the prey starts to flee from an approaching predator) increases as the cost of not fleeing (risk) increases. This prediction has been verified for many risk factors and prey species. The same predictions may apply to other aspects of escape, but testing has been much less extensive. For the lizards Callisaurus draconoides and Sceloporus magister, we tested several such predictions and examined the effect of a previously unstudied risk factor, recent movement by prey. Starting distance (predator-prey distance when approach begins) was unrelated to FID in C. draconoides, as in previously studied ambush foragers. Because movement increases probability of being detected, we predicted that FID would be greater for prey that had moved immediately before being approached than those that had been immobile. FID and distance fled (DF) were longer for lizards that had moved recently. In C. draconoides DF and probability of entering refuge were greater for the second of two approaches, as predicted from greater threat posed by a persistent predator. Callisaurus draconoides had shorter FID and shorter DF, and fewer entered refuge where lizards were habituated than unhabituated to human presence. In S. magister FID increased as distance to refuge increased, FID and DF were longer for fast than slow approaches; probability of fleeing and FID were larger for direct than indirect approach. Effects of these risk factors on FID are consistent across studies, but approach speed has affected DF in only half of studies, perhaps due to constraints by refuge entry and variable distance to refuge. Similarities in effects of risk factors across escape variables, types of predator-prey encounters, and latency to emerge from refuge suggest that similar risk assessment mechanism are used for all variables and settings.

Affiliations: 1: aDepartment of Biology, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA; 2: bSouthwestern Research Station, American Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 16553, Portal, AZ 85632, USA


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