Habituation to low-risk predators improves body condition in lizards
Habituation to nonlethal predation stimuli may provide benefits for animals living in areas with frequent encounters with low-risk predators. On the other hand, individuals can be very consistent in their antipredator responses, with shy individuals showing greater degree of responsiveness than bold individuals. However, the link between habituation or boldness and individual benefits has not been thoroughly investigated. We established whether and how two behavioral components associated with antipredator responses (habituation and boldness, and their interaction) would influence body condition, which is a parameter related to fitness. We conducted an outdoor semi-natural experiment with Iberian wall lizards (Podarcis hispanica). Individual boldness was consistent across contexts, but we did not find any effect of boldness or the interaction between boldness and habituation on body condition. However, those individuals that habituated more readily to a frequent predatory stimulus were able to increase their body condition more relative to lizards that habituated less. This finding highlights the importance of individual differences in behavioral plasticity, which could influence traits related to fitness. Habituation can provide benefits for individuals exposed to low-risk predators; however, individuals more prone to habituation could also experience mortality costs by wrongly habituating to a dangerous predator.
KeywordsBehavioral plasticity Behavioral syndrome Body condition Boldness Fitness Habituation Personality
We thank “El Ventorrillo” MNCN Field Station for the use of their facilities. Financial funding was provided by the project MCI-CGL 2008-02119. IRP was supported by a postgraduate grant from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
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