Chemical discrimination among predators by lizards: responses of three skink species to the odours of high and low-threat varanid predators

Lloyd, Ray, Alford, Ross A., and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2009) Chemical discrimination among predators by lizards: responses of three skink species to the odours of high and low-threat varanid predators. Austral Ecology, 34. pp. 50-54.

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Abstract

Animals must balance the benefits of predator avoidance with costs. Costs of predator avoidance, such as being forced to spend long periods inactive, should select for careful discrimination among predator species. Although prey responses to multiple predators have been well researched across many taxa, no studies have tested whether lizards discriminate among larger lizard predators.We examined the responses of three species of skink to two species of predatory goanna, one that occasionally consumes skinks, and the other a skink specialist. Three litter-dwelling, tropical skink species, Carlia rostralis, C. rubrigularis and C. storri, were given a choice between a retreat site treated with the odour of one of the goanna species, and an odourless control.The two goanna species used for stimulus scents were: Varanus tristis, a species that consumes skinks as a major proportion of its diet, and Varanus varius, a species that consumes skinks occasionally. Both goannas are broadly sympatric with all three skink species. Carlia rostralisand C. storriboth avoided the scent of V. tristis, whereas C. rubrigularisdid not. However, no skink species avoided the odour of V. varius. Prey are clearly able to avoid predators based on chemical cues, and can discriminate among similar predators that pose different levels of threat.

Item ID: 4805
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1442-9993
Keywords: Carlia, chemical cue, goanna, predator avoidance, skink, Varanu, tropical biology
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2009 04:17
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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