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Ecology. 2012 Dec;93(12):2512-8.

Predators determine how weather affects the spatial niche of lizard prey: exploring niche dynamics at a fine scale.

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Island Ecology and Evolutionary Research Group (GEEI), Instituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología, IPNA-CSIC, Avenida Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez 3, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands 38206, Spain.


Although abiotic and biotic factors can interact to shape the spatial niche of a species, studies that explore the interactive effects of both at a local scale are rare. We demonstrate that one of the main axes (perch height) characterizing the spatial niche of a common lizard, Anolis sagrei, varies according to the interactive effects of weather and the activity of a larger predatory lizard, Leiocephalus carinatus. Results were completely consistent: no matter how favorable the weather conditions for using the ground (mainly characterized by temperature, humidity, wind speed, rain), A. sagrei did not do so if the predator was present. Hence, great behavioral plasticity enabled A. sagrei to adjust its use of space very quickly. To the best of our knowledge, these results constitute the first field demonstration for anoles (and possibly for other animals as well) of how time-varying environmental conditions and predator presence interact to produce short-term changes in utilization along a major niche axis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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