Term of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Lance D. McBrayer

Committee Member 1

C. Ray Chandler

Committee Member 2

David C. Rostal

Abstract

Sceloporus woodi is a small, sexually dimorphic Iguanid lizard endemic to dry xeric habitats in Florida. This species is most often found in sand-pine scrub habitats, but also inhabits relic long-leaf pine "islands" within the scrub of the Ocala National Forest in north central Florida. In the current study I investigated seasonal and sexual variation in foraging behavior of S. woodi and compared microhabitat use, behavior, diet, morphology, and ectoparasite load at a pine island site to S. woodi in scrub habitats. No variation in movement patterns existed between seasons and sexes. However significant seasonal and sexual differences did exist in the way S. woodi attacked prey. Using the proportion of attacks on prey made while stationary and lag sequential analysis, I found that females are more willing to move greater than one body length to attack prey items than males and both sexes are more apt to move to attack prey during the post-breeding season. These behavioral differences translated into a more diverse and higher volume diet in females during the breeding season. Even though both sexes showed the same seasonal patterns in foraging behavior, their diets changed in the opposite manner. Female diets decreased in volume and the number of prey types in the post-breeding season while male diets increased in both characteristics. Lizards at the pine island site used trees most often while lizards in the scrub used terrestrial habitats most often. Behavior was similar between habitats, but individuals did move their heads more often at the pine island site. At the pine island site lizards had significantly lower body temperatures, consumed less diverse prey, and had lower ectoparasite loads. Lizards in the long leaf pine had longer limbs than their counterparts in scrub habitats. However, only females differed in body shape between habitat types. This study has identified sources and consequences of variation in the foraging behavior of S. woodi. Additionally this study has shown that S. woodi in pine island habitats may differ ecologically from S. woodi in scrub habitats.

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