, Volume 168, Issue 1, pp 35–42 | Cite as

Effects of intraguild predators on nest-site selection by prey

  • Wen-San HuangEmail author
  • David A. Pike
Behavioral ecology - Original Paper


Nest-site selection involves tradeoffs between the risk of predation (on females and/or nests) and nest-site quality (microenvironment), and consequently suitable nesting sites are often in limited supply. Interactions with “classical” predators (e.g., those not competing for shared resources) can strongly influence nest-site selection, but whether intraguild predation also influences this behavior is unknown. We tested whether risk of predation from an intraguild predator [the diurnal scincid lizard Eutropis (Mabuya) longicaudata] influences nest-site selection by its prey (the nocturnal gecko Gekko hokouensis) on Orchid Island, Taiwan. These two species putatively compete for shared resources, including invertebrate prey and nesting microhabitat, but the larger E. longicaudata also predates G. hokouensis (but not its hard-shelled eggs). Both species nested within a concrete wall containing a series of drainage holes that have either one (“closed-in”) or two openings (“open”). In allopatry, E. longicaudata preferred to nest within holes that were plugged by debris (thereby protecting eggs from water intrusion), whereas G. hokouensis selected holes that were open at both ends (facilitating escape from predators). When we experimentally excluded E. longicaudata from its preferred nesting area, G. hokouensis not only nested in higher abundances, but also modified its nest-site selection, such that communal nesting was more prevalent and both open and closed-in holes were used equally. Egg viability was unaffected by the choice of hole type, but was reduced slightly (by 7%) in the predator exclusion area (presumably due to higher local incubation temperatures). Our field experiment demonstrates that intraguild predators can directly influence the nest density of prey by altering maternal nest-site selection behavior, even when the predator and prey are active at different times of day and the eggs are not at risk of predation.


Artificial habitat Interspecific competition Predation risk Temperature 



We are grateful to C.H. Chang and several volunteers for help in the field. Comments by Reid Tingley helped improve an earlier draft. Funding was provided by the Kuo Wu Hsiu Luan Culture and Education Foundation and the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC96-2621-B-178-002-MY3). All experiments adhered to the animal care protocols of Pingtung County, Taiwan, and the animal experimental protocols of the National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung, Taiwan (Permit NMNSHP97-002).


  1. Amarasekare P (2007) Trade-offs, temporal variation, and species coexistence in communities with intraguild predation. Ecology 88:2720–2728PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arim M, Marquet PA (2004) Intraguild predation: a widespread interaction related to species biology. Ecol Lett 7:557–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burley LA, Moyer AT, Petranka JW (2006) Density of an intraguild predator mediates feeding group size, intraguild egg predation, and intra- and interspecific competition. Oecologia 148:641–649PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Choh Y, van der Hammen T, Sabelis MW, Janssen A (2010) Cues of intraguild predators affect the distribution of intraguild prey. Oecologia 163:335–340PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Congdon JD, Dunham AE, Van Loben Sels RC (1993) Delayed sexual maturity and demographics of Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii): implications for conservation and management of long-lived organisms. Conserv Biol 7:826–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooper WE Jr, Vitt LJ, Hedges R, Huey RB (1990) Locomotor impairment and defense in gravid lizards (Eumeces laticeps): behavioral shift in activity may offset costs of reproduction in an active forager. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27:153–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Doody JS, Freedberg S, Keogh JS (2009) Communal egg-laying in reptiles and amphibians: evolutionary patterns and hypotheses. Q Rev Biol 84:229–252PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Forstmeier W, Weiss I (2004) Adaptive plasticity in nest-site selection in response to changing predation risk. Oikos 104:487–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Holt RD, Polis GA (1997) A theoretical framework for intraguild predation. Am Nat 149:745–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Huang WS (1994) Report on egg clutch size of the long-tailed skink, Mabuya longicaudata from Taiwan. J Taiwan Mus 47:45–47Google Scholar
  11. Huang WS (2004) Reptile ecology and the evolution of parental care on a tropical Asian island. PhD Thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Huang WS (2006a) Parental care in the long-tailed skink, Mabuya longicaudata on a tropical Asian island. Anim Behav 72:791–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Huang WS (2006b) Ecological characteristics of the skink, Mabuya longicaudata, on a tropical East Asian island. Copeia 2006:293–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Huang WS (2007) Costs of egg caring in the skink, Mabuya longicaudata. Ecol Res 22:659–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Huang WS (2008) Predation risk of whole-clutch filial cannibalism in a tropical skink with maternal care. Behav Ecol 19:1069–1074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Huang W-S, Pike DA (2011) Climate change impacts on fitness depend on nesting habitat in lizards. Funct Ecol (in press)Google Scholar
  17. Kolbe JJ, Janzen FJ (2002) Impact of nest-site selection on nest success and nest temperature in natural and disturbed habitats. Ecol 83:269–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lima SL, Dill LM (1990) Behavioural decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Can J Zool 68:619–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Martin TE (2001) Abiotic vs. biotic influences on habitat selection of coexisting species: climate change impacts? Ecology 82:175–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Okada S, Izawa M, Ota H (2002) Growth and reproduction of Gekko hokouensis (Reptilia: Squamata) on Okinawajima Island of the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. J Herpetol 36:473–479Google Scholar
  21. Pike DA, Croak BM, Webb JK, Shine R (2010) Context-dependent avoidance of predatory centipedes by nocturnal geckos (Oedura lesueurii). Behaviour 147:397–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Polis GA, Myers CA, Holt RD (1989) The ecology and evolution of intraguild predation: potential competitors that eat each other. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 20:297–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Putra NS, Yasuda H, Sat S (2009) Oviposition preference of two hoverfly species in response to risk of intraguild predation. Appl Entomol Zool 44:29–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Relyea RA (2003) Predators come and predators go: the reversibility of predator-induced traits. Ecology 84:1840–1848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Schellhorn NA, Andow DA (1999) Cannibalism and interspecific predation: role of oviposition behaviour. Ecol Appl 9:418–428Google Scholar
  26. Sergio F, Hiraldo F (2008) Intraguild predation in raptor assemblages: a review. Ibis 150:132–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sergio F, Marchesi L, Pedrini P (2003) Spatial refugia and the coexistence of a diurnal raptor with its intraguild owl predator. J Anim Ecol 72:232–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sergio F, Marchesi L, Pedrini P, Penteriani V (2007) Coexistence of a generalist owl with its intraguild predator: distance-sensitive or habitat-mediated avoidance? Anim Behav 74:1607–1616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shine R (1980) “Costs” of reproduction in reptiles. Oecologia 46:92–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shine R (2004) Incubation regimes of cold-climate reptiles: the thermal consequences of nest-site choice, viviparity and maternal basking. Biol J Linn Soc 83:145–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shine R, Harlow PS (1996) Maternal manipulation of offspring phenotypes via nest-site selection in an oviparous lizard. Ecology 77:1808–1817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shine R, Elphick MJ, Harlow PS (1997) The influence of natural incubation environments on the phenotypic traits of hatchling lizards. Ecology 78:2559–2568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Spencer R-J (2002) Experimentally testing nest site selection: fitness trade-offs and predation risk in turtles. Ecology 83:2136–2144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Spencer R-J, Thompson MB (2003) The significance of predation in nest site selection of turtles: an experimental consideration of macro- and microhabitat preferences. Oikos 102:592–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Stamps JA (1983) The relationship between ontogenetic habitat shifts, competition and predator avoidance in a juvenile lizard (Anolis aenus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 12:19–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stoleson SH, Beissinger SR (2001) Does risk of nest failure or adult predation influence hatching patterns of the green-rumped parrotlet? Condor 103:85–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Turner AM, Turner RR, Ray SR (2007) Competition and intraguild egg predation among freshwater snails: re-examining the mechanism of interspecific interactions. Oikos 116:1895–1903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Underwood G (1954) On the classification and evolution of geckos. Proc Zool Soc Lond 124:469–492Google Scholar
  39. Walzer A, Paulus HF, Schausberger P (2006) Oviposition behavior of interacting predatory mites: Response to the presence of con- and heterospecific eggs. J Insect Behav 19:305–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Warner DA, Uller T, Shine R (2009) Fitness effects of the timing of hatching may drive the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination in short-lived lizards. Evol Ecol 23:281–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Webb JK, Pringle RM, Shine R (2009) Intraguild predation, thermoregulation, and microhabitat selection by snakes. Behav Ecol 20:271–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Webb JK, Pike DA, Shine R (2010) Olfactory recognition of predators by nocturnal lizards: safety outweighs thermal benefits. Behav Ecol 21:72–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ZoologyNational Museum of Natural ScienceTaichungTaiwan
  2. 2.School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations