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Uncertainty about future predation risk modulates monitoring behavior from refuges in lizards


  • Vicente Polo
  • Pilar López
  • José Martín


Resources invested by prey to acquire information on predator behavior from inside the refuge are crucial to minimize the risk of suffering a future fatal attack. However, most studies have only analyzed situations where information on the predator behavior is unavailable for hiding preys. Also, temporal patterns of risk may affect antipredatory behavior allocation. We simulated in outdoor terraria series of 2 types of predatory attacks (low vs. high risks) with different sequences of risks (predictable series vs. attacks where risk level changed randomly) to Iberian rock lizards. We measured time spent entirely hidden in refuges until appearing near the exit of the refuge (appearance time) and time spent leaning out of the refuge while monitoring the predator (monitoring time) after each predatory interaction. Monitoring time, irrespectively of the temporal pattern of risk, was higher after a single low-risk approach of the predator than after a direct unsuccessful attack. In addition, after multiple repeated interactions with the predator, there was a significant decrease in monitoring time with the sequence order of interactions but only when lizards fled to the refuge after low-risk approaches. Lizards spent more time monitoring the predator from inside the refuge after a low-risk approach, which may be explained because, if there has not been a clear attack, uncertainty on immediate future risk would be greater, and prey may need more time before leaving the refuge to ensure that a predator has not detected the lizard and that it is not ambushing near the refuge. Our study suggests that acquisition of information during and after an attack is important in determining refuge use as an antipredation response. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Vicente Polo & Pilar López & José Martín, 2011. "Uncertainty about future predation risk modulates monitoring behavior from refuges in lizards," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(1), pages 218-223.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:1:p:218-223

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