Separating the effects of prey size and speed on the kinematics of prey capture in the omnivorous lizard Gerrhosaurus major
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Feeding behavior is known to be modulated as prey properties change. During prey capture, external prey properties, including size and mobility, are likely some of the most important components in predator–prey interactions. Whereas prey size has been demonstrated to elicit modulation of jaw movements during capture, how prey speed affects the approach and capture of prey remains unknown. We quantified the kinematics associated with movements of both the feeding and locomotor systems during prey capture in a lizard, Gerrhosaurus major, while facing prey differing in size and mobility (newborn mice, grasshoppers, and mealworms). Our data show that the feeding and locomotor systems were recruited differently in response to changes in the size or speed of the prey. The timing of jaw movements and of the positioning of the head are affected by changes in prey size—and speed, to a lesser extent. Changes in prey speed resulted in concomitant changes in the speed of strike and an early and greater elevation of the neck. External prey properties, and prey mobility in particular, are relevant in predator–prey interactions and elicit specific responses in different functional systems.
KeywordsCapture Prey Speed Size Lizard
This work is part of the PhD project of Stéphane Montuelle and is supported by the Legs Prévost (MNHN), ANR 06-BLAN-0132-02 and Phymep Corporation. The authors would like to thank ANR project Kameleon (ARA 05-MMSA-0002 “Masse de Données”) which provided the opportunity to use the synchronized camera set up at the Plateau Technique ‘Biologie des Organismes’ (dpt. EGB ‘Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité’, MNHN). We also would like to thank Caroline Simonis for her constructive comments and suggestions on data analysis. Finally, S. M. would like to thank Prof J. Losos for welcoming him at the Losos Lab (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA), during the writing of this manuscript.
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