Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Commentary on the Factors Governing the Rate of Tail Loss in Island Lizards

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Opinions differ whether tail loss in lizards is mainly caused by predators or by intra-specific fighting. Recently this dilemma was investigated through a comparison of lizard tail loss rates between mainland populations in Greece and those on nearby islands harboring fewer predators. The higher tail loss rate on the islands was interpreted as due to the predation-free denser lizard populations having more intra-specific fighting (Itescu et al. 2017, Journal of Animal Ecology 86: 66–74). However, that analysis failed to exclude an alternative hypothesis which I propose and support with well documented circumstantial evidence: The lizards analyzed were Hemidactylus turcicus and Mediodactylus kotschyi (Gekkonidae), both relatively long-lived. On the predator-poor islands they could live longer due to the few predators and thus accumulate the low rate of tail loss. Moreover, both on the mainland and on the islands the tail loss rates are higher in M. kotschyi than in H. turcicus, although life spans are of similar order of magnitude, possibly longer in H. turcicus. But the latter is active at night whereas M. kotschyi is active also in daytime, exposed to more predators during more time. Thus also this inter-specific difference accords with the alternative hypothesis. The two processes are not mutually exclusive and both should be taken into account as potentially responsible for the rate of tail loss in lizards.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 91904 Jerusalem, Israel; ; 2: Museum für Tierkunde, Senckenberg Dresden, A. B. Meyer Building, Königsbrücker Landstrasse 159, 01109 Dresden, Germany


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Arnold E.N. (1984). "Evolutionary aspects of tail shedding in lizards and their relatives". J. nat. Hist. Vol 18: 127169.
2. Arnold E.N., (1988). "Caudal autotomy as a defense". In: Gans C.,, Huey R.B., eds, Biology of the Reptilia, Vol. 16 , New York: Alan Liss, pp. 236273.
3. Bauer A.M. (2013). Geckos, the Animal Answer Guide . Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.
4. Bustard H.R.,, Hughes R.D. (1966). "Gekkonid lizards: average ages derived from tail-loss data", Science Vol 153: 16701671.
5. Castanet J.,, Smirina E.M. (1990). "Introduction to the skeletochronological method in amphibians and reptiles". Ann. Sci. Nat. Zool.Vol 11: 191196.
6. Cooper W.E.Jr.,, Dimopoulos I.,, Pafilis P. (2015). "Sex, age, and population density affect aggressive behaviors in island lizards promoting cannibalism". Ethology Vol 120: 110.
7. Flesch E.,, Motro U.,, Werner Y.L. (2015). "The systematics challenge of the house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) in Israel". Zool. Soc. Israel, Mikhmoret, 13 December 2015. (Poster.)
8. Itescu Y.,, Schwarz R.,, Meiri S.,, Pafilis P. (2017). "Intraspecific competition, not predation, drives lizard tail loss on islands". J. Anim. Ecol. Vol 86: 6674.
9. Linnaeus C. (1758). Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis . Tomus I. Ed. 10, reformata. Holmiæ: Laurentii Salvii.
10. Moravec J.,, Kratochvíl L.,, Amr Z.S.,, Jandzik D.,, Šmíd J.,, Gvoždík V. (2011). "High genetic differentiation within the Hemidactylus turcicus complex (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) in the Levant, with comments on the phylogeny and systematics of the genus". Zootaxa Vol 2894: 2138.
11. Munch S.B.,, Salina S. (2009). "Latitudinal variation in lifespan within species is explained by the metabolic theory of ecology". Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. Vol 106: 1386013864.
12. Pafilis P.,, Meiri S.,, Foufopoulos J.,, Valakos E.D. (2009). "Intraspecific competition and high food availability are associated with insular gigantism in a lizard". Naturwiss. Vol 96: 11071113.
13. Scharf I.,, Feldman A.,, Novosolov M.,, Pincheira-Donoso D.,, Das I.,, Bohm M.,, Uetz P.,, Torres-Carvajal O.,, Bauer A.,, Roll U.,, Meiri S. (2015). "Late bloomers and baby boomers: ecological drivers of longevity in squamates and the tuatara". Global Ecol. Biogeogr. Vol 24: 396405.
14. Seligmann H.,, Beiles A.,, Werner Y.L., (1996). "Tail loss frequencies of lizards and predator specialization", In: Preservation of our world in the wake of change (Proceedings of the 6th International Conference, Israel Society for Ecology and Environmental Quality Science vol. 6B), pp. 520522, Steinberger Y., Ed, ISEEQS, Jerusalem.
15. Steindachner F. (1870). "Herpetologische Notizen (Il). Reptilien gesammelt während einer Reise in Sengambien". Sber. K. Akad. Wiss. Wien , Vol 62: 326348.
16. Üzüm N.,, Ilgaz Ç.,, Kumlutaş Y.,, Gümüş Ç.,, Avci A. (2014). "The body size, age structure, and growth of Bosc’s fringe-toed lizard, Acanthodactylus boskianus (Daudin, 1802)". Turk. J. Zool. Vol 38: 383388.
17. Werner Y.L. (1965). "The comparative caudal osteology of some gekkonid lizards from Israel". Isr. J. Zool. Vol 14: 286301.
18. Werner Y.L. (1966). "Cyrtodactylus kotschyi orientalis in Israel". Lacerta Vol 24: 9496.
19. Werner Y.L. (1967). "Regeneration of the caudal axial skeleton in a gekkonid lizard (Hemidactylus) with particular reference to the ‘latent’ period". Acta Zool. (Stockholm) Vol 48: 103125.
20. Werner Y.L. (1968). "Regeneration frequencies in geckos of two ecological types (Reptilia:Gekkonidae)". Vie Milieu, CVol 19: 199221.
21. Werner Y.L. (1993). "The paradoxical tree gecko of Israel". Dactylus Vol 2: 2942.
22. Werner Y.L. (2008). "Tales of tails". Gekko Vol 5(2): 618.
23. Werner Y.L. (2016). Reptile Life in the Land of Israel, with Comments on Adjacent Regions. Frankfurt a.M.: Chimaira.
24. Werner Y.L.,, Frankenberg E.,, Volokita M.,, Harari R. (1993). "Longevity of geckos (Reptilia: Lacertilia: Gekkonoidea) in captivity: an analytical review incorporating new data". Isr. J. Zool.Vol 39: 105124.

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation