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Effects of sex and microhabitat structure on escape behaviour in the diurnal gecko Gonatodes albogularis

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Flight initiation distance is defined as the distance between a prey and an approaching predator when the prey starts to flee. Escape theory predicts that the optimal flight initiation distance is the distance where predation risk rises to the point at which it equals the cost of fleeing. Therefore, staying close to refuge and occupying microhabitats with more abundant shelters (i.e., crevices or shrubs) may allow lizards to have shorter flight initiation distance. By simulating an approaching predator, we studied the effect of microhabitat structural complexity on escape behaviour, in particular, the distance fled before stopping and final distance (predator-prey distance when the prey stops fleeing), of a small diurnal tropical gecko, the yellow-headed gecko Gonatodes albogularis inhabiting a tropical dry forest. The findings indicate that refuge abundance and distance to the nearest potential refuge influence escape behaviour of G. albogularis. In addition, we found sex differences in escape behaviour which are not explained by microhabitat use. Females had longer flight initiation distance but shorter distance fled, and longer final distances than males.

Affiliations: 1: 3Departamento de Biología Animal, Universidad de Salamanca, Campus Miguel de Unamuno, Edificio de Farmacia 5a planta, 37007 Salamanca, Spain; 2: 4Grupo de Investigación en Biodiversidad, Universidad de Córdoba, Carrera 6 No. 76-103, Córdoba, Colombia


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