Sequential Analyses of Foraging Behavior and Attack Speed in Ambush and Widely Foraging Lizards

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Adaptive Behavior






Food acquisition mode in lizards (i.e., ambush vs. widely searching) has been intensely scrutinized for the past decade to identify correlations between food acquisition mode, diet, sprint speed, and other aspects of phenotypic diversity. To begin to understand these correlations, we studied foraging mode variation in natural foraging behavior and attack speed in three ambush predators and two widely foraging species in the field. Sequential analyses revealed considerable variation in the temporal structure of behavioral repertoires associated with acquiring food. Ambush and wide-foraging species use unique combinations of behaviors prior to prey attack with differences among and between food acquisition modes. Attack speeds were well below maximum sprint speed for these species. Thus, the widely demonstrated correlation between food acquisition mode and sprint speed is not related to prey capture per se. The striking variation in prey capture repertoires in these model ambush and wide foragers shows that we have a long way to go before we will understand the ecological relevance of many performance and phenotypic traits that are related to foraging mode in lizards.