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Behavioral responses to seasonality by two Sceloporine lizard species from a tropical dry forest

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We investigated behavioral responses of two lizards, Sceloporus melanorhinus and S. utiformis, to environmental seasonality in a tropical dry forest of western Mexico. We conducted focal observations of individuals in the field during both the rainy and dry seasons and compared perch use, foraging and social behaviors and displacement activity within and between species. Our results indicate that seasonal changes occur in the behavior and activity of both male and female S. melanorhinus and S. utiformis. Feeding frequency, social displays, and distances travelled increased significantly in both species during the rainy season. These seasonal changes tended to be more pronounced in the arboreal species; S. melanorhinus. Surprisingly, female S. melanorhinus perched higher than males during the rainy season. Most of the observed changes are similar to the responses to seasonality observed in other lizards, both for species that exist within our study area, and for species that inhabit other seasonal environments in tropical and temperate ecosystems. Thus, the seasonal patterns in behavior documented in this study may represent a general set of behavioral strategies that allow lizards to better adapt to seasonal fluctuations in their environment, such as changes in predation pressure, variation in resource levels, and differences in insolation, temperature, and moisture levels.

Affiliations: 1: Estación de Biología Chamela, Instituto de Bilogía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, apartado postal # 21, San Patricio, La Huerta, Jalisco, 48980, México; 2: Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Facultad de Biología, Programa de Maestría en Conservación y Manejo de Recursos Naturales, Edificio R, Ciudad Universitaria, Morelia, Michoacán; 3: Department of Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th St., Troy, NY 12180, USA


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