Escape tactics and effects of perch height and habituation on flight initiation distance in two Jamaican anoles (Squamata: Polychrotidae)

William E. Cooper Jr.
2009 Revista de Biología Tropical  
Escape by Anolis lizards is influenced by microhabitats and fight initiation distance increases with predation risk. Differences in microhabitat use among ecomorphs affect escape behavior, but only two studies have reported ecomorphological differences in flight initiation distance among Greater Antillean species. I studied effects of predation risk and microhabitats on escape behavior by conducting field experiments using two species of anoles, Anolis lineatopus and A. grahami, on the campus
more » ... the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica. Because ecomorphological variation of anoles has evolved independently within each island of the Greater Antilles, but relationships between ecomorphs and escape behaviors are poorly known, I characterized microhabitat use and escape tactics, and determined relationships between flight initiation distance and two risk factors, habituation to human presence and perch height, in Anolis lineatopus, a trunk-ground anole and A. grahami, a trunk-crown anole. Sample sizes for A. lineatopus and A. grahami were 214 and 93, for microhabitat use and escape destinations, 74 and 34 for human presence and 125 and 34 for perch height. The two species occurred in similar microhabitats and exhibited similar escape tactics, but exhibited key differences expected for their ecomorphs. Both species were sighted frequently on the ground and on trees, but A. lineatopus were more frequently on ground and were perched lower than A. grahami. Both species escaped from ground to trees and when on trees hid on far sides and escaped without changing climbing direction with equal frequency. The frequency of fleeing upward was greater for A. grahami than A. lineatopus. Both species exhibited habituation by having shorter flight initiation distances in areas with more frequent exposure to people. In both species flight initiation distance increased as perch height decreased because, lizards had to climb farther to be out of reach when perched lower. The relationship between flight initiation distance and perch height may apply to other anole ecomorphs that flee upward when low perched on trees. Rev. Biol. Trop. 58 (4): 1199-1209. Epub 2010 December 01.
doi:10.15517/rbt.v58i4.5405 fatcat:wnq2gtagobcynjgywdjxu2st7y