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Local enhancement and social foraging in a non-social insular lizard

Abstract

Even in solitary foragers, conspecifics can provide reliable information about food location. The insular lizard Podarcis lilfordi is a solitary species with high population densities that sometimes aggregate around rich food patches. Its diet includes novel and unpredictable resources, such as carcasses or plants, whose exploitation quickly became widespread among the population. We tested the use of social information by lizards through some field experiments in which they had to choose one of the two pieces of fruit. Probably due to local enhancement, lizards preferred to feed on the piece of fruit where conspecifics or lizard-shaped models were already present. Conspecifics’ behaviour, but also their mere presence, seems to be a valuable source of information to decide where to feed. Lizards also showed a strong attraction to conspecifics, even in the absence of food. Maybe the presence of a group is interpreted as an indirect cue for the presence of food. The group size was not important to females, but males had a significantly higher attraction towards groups with three conspecifics. We discuss some characteristics of P. lilfordi at Aire Island that can explain the development of the observed social foraging, as well as their possible consequences.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the research projects CGL2006-10893-C02-02, CGL2009-12926-C02-02 and CGL2012-39850-C02-02 from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation co-founded by FEDER funds from the European Union. APC was supported by a FPU grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education. We thank M. Garrido for helping with fieldwork. We acknowledge the useful comments of the editor and two anonymous reviewers that greatly improved a first version of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The experiments reported in this paper complied with the current laws of the country where they were performed (Spain). Lizards were studied thanks to special permits from the Servei de Protecció d’Especies, Conselleria de Medi Ambient, Balearic Government, Spain (CEP 03/2011 and CEP 34/2013).

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Correspondence to Ana Pérez-Cembranos.

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Pérez-Cembranos, A., Pérez-Mellado, V. Local enhancement and social foraging in a non-social insular lizard. Anim Cogn 18, 629–637 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-014-0831-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-014-0831-3

Keywords

  • Social information
  • Foraging behaviour
  • Conspecific attraction
  • Islands
  • Podarcis lilfordi