Pursuit deterrence, predation risk, and escape in the lizard Callisaurus draconoides
ABSTRACT The frequency of pursuit-deterrent signaling should vary with predation risk for factors affecting decisions to flee and hide.
Distance to refuge, temperature, and microhabitat types affect risk, and their effects may differ among defenses. Because
risk is greater farther from refuge and at lower temperatures that impair escape ability in ectotherms, I predicted that when
farther from refuge ectothermic prey flee sooner, enter refuge more frequently, and signal more frequently. At low temperatures,
prey should flee sooner, enter refuge, and signal less frequently. Because signaling sometimes deters attack, lowered risk
might allow prey to permit closer approach when signaling. In the zebra-tailed lizard Callisaurus draconoides, which signals by waving its tail, signaling and the other behaviors were affected by the same risk factors. Probability
of signaling before fleeing increased with distance to refuge and temperature, but variation in temperature accounted for
the effect of distance to refuge. Lizards signaled not at all at low temperatures, after starting to flee at intermediate
temperatures, and before, during, and after fleeing at higher temperatures. This pattern is consistent with honest signaling
of escape ability. Refuge entry was more frequent nearer refuge (lower risk) and at lower temperature (higher risk). Display
was less frequent on rock than ground, possibly due to conspicuousness or delay in attaining high speed. Flight initiation
distance was shorter after signaling. This novel finding suggests that signaling reduces risk and prey alter escape decisions
based on lower risk as a consequence of their own signaling behavior.
KeywordsAntipredatory behavior–Escape behavior–Flight initiation distance–Predation risk–Pursuit deterrence–Refuge use–Squamata