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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 185–189 | Cite as

Do mountain log skinks (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) modify their behaviour in the presence of two predators?

  • Jessica Stapley
Original Article

Abstract

Prey often adopt antipredator strategies to reduce the likelihood of predation. In the presence of predators, prey may use antipredator strategies that are effective against a single predator (specific) or that are effective against several predators (nonspecific). Most studies have been confined to single predator environments although prey are often faced with multiple predators. When more than one predator is present, specific antipredator behaviours can conflict and avoidance of one predator may increase vulnerability to another. To test how prey cope with this dilemma, I recorded the behaviours of lizards responding to the nonlethal cues of a bird and snake presented singly and simultaneously. Lizards use specific and conflicting antipredator tactics when confronted with each predator, as evidenced by refuge use. However, when both predators were present, lizards’ refuge use was the same as in the predator-free environment, indicating that they abandoned refuge use as a primary mechanism for predator avoidance. In the presence of both predators, they reduced their overall movement and time spent thermoregulating. This shift in behaviour may represent a compromise to minimize overall risk, following a change in predator exposure. This provides evidence of plasticity in lizard antipredator behaviour and shows that prey responses to two predators cannot be accurately predicted from what is observed when only one predator is present.

Keywords

Predator avoidance Multiple predators Scincidae Drysdalia 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my PhD supervisor Scott Keogh for his guidance, support and comments on manuscript drafts. Thanks also go to Bob Wong and the rest of the Keogh laboratory for useful comments and lively discussion on the manuscript. Additional thanks go to William Cooper and two anonymous reviewers for careful editing and useful comments. The ASIH Gaige Fund and the Ecological Society of Australia provided financial support. The research described in this paper was approved by the Animal Experimentation and Ethics Committee of the Australian National University (protocol number: F.BTZ.17.00).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Botany and ZoologyAustralian National UniversityCanberra Australia

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