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Locomotor performance of sand lizards (Lacerta agilis): effects of predatory pressure and parasite load.

Research paper by Anna A Ekner-Grzyb, Zofia Z Sajkowska, Krzysztof K Dudek, Monika M Gawałek, Piotr P Skórka, Piotr P Tryjanowski

Indexed on: 21 Sep '13Published on: 21 Sep '13Published in: acta ethologica



Abstract

Locomotor performance affects foraging efficiency, predator avoidance and consequently fitness. Agility and speed determine the animal's social status and reflect its condition. In this study, we test how predatory pressure and parasite load influences locomotor performance of wild specimens of the sand lizard Lacerta agilis. Animals were chased on a 2-metre racetrack. Lizards with autotomy ran significantly faster than lizards with an intact tail, but there was no significant difference in running speed between individuals with fresh caudal autotomy and regenerated tails. Parasite presence and load, age and sex had no significant effect on speed. Our results indicate that autotomy either alters locomotory behaviour or that individuals with autotomised tails were those that previously survived contact with predators, and therefore represented a subgroup of the fastest individuals. Therefore, in general, predatory pressure but not parasites affected locomotor performance in lizards.