Tradeoffs between courtship, fighting, and antipredatory behavior by a lizard, Eumeces laticeps
- Cite this article as:
- Cooper Jr., W. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1999) 47: 54. doi:10.1007/s002650050649
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Male fitness in many species depends strongly on social behaviors needed to obtain fertilizations and prevent loss of fertilizations to other males, but courtship, copulation, and fighting may incur increased risk of predation. When demands for reproductive and antipredatory behaviors conflict, fitness may be maximized by accepting some degree of risk to enhance reproductive success. To examine such tradeoffs, I introduced tethered conspecific males or females to adult male broad-headed skinks, Eumeces laticeps, in the field and observed how close they allowed a simulated predator (me) to approach before fleeing, or their latency to approach an introduced female located at different distances from the predator. When conspecific males were introduced, isolated and mate-guarding males initiated agonistic behaviors and permitted closer approach than control males, and mate-guarding males permitted closer approach than isolated males. When females were introduced, both isolated and mate-guarding males courted the introduced females and isolated males permitted closer approach than did mate-guarding males. These results for introduced males and females suggest that increasing risk was accepted when reproductive benefits were greater. Latency for isolated males to approach a conspecific female was greater when the predator was closer to the female, further suggesting sensitivity to predation risk during a reproductive opportunity. Relationships between reproductive and antipredatory behaviors have been studied much less than those between feeding and antipredatory behaviors, but this study indicates that animals balance increased risk of predation with the opportunity to perform several reproductively important behaviors.