Horned Lizards (horned + lizard)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Plesiomorphic Escape Decisions in Cryptic Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma) Having Highly Derived Antipredatory Defenses

ETHOLOGY, Issue 10 2010
William E. Cooper Jr
Escape theory predicts that the probability of fleeing and flight initiation distance (predator,prey distance when escape begins) increase as predation risk increases and decrease as escape cost increases. These factors may apply even to highly cryptic species that sometimes must flee. Horned lizards (Phrynosoma) rely on crypsis because of coloration, flattened body form, and lateral fringe scales that reduce detectability. At close range they sometimes squirt blood-containing noxious substances and defend themselves with cranial spines. These antipredatory traits are highly derived, but little is known about the escape behavior of horned lizards. Of particular interest is whether their escape decisions bear the same relationships to predation risk and opportunity costs of escaping as in typical prey lacking such derived defenses. We investigated the effects of repeated attack and direction of predator turning on P. cornutum and of opportunity cost of fleeing during a social encounter in P. modestum. Flight initiation distance was greater for the second of two successive approaches and probability of fleeing decreased as distance between the turning predator and prey increased, but was greater when the predator turned toward than away from a lizard. Flight initiation distance was shorter during social encounters than when lizards were solitary. For all variables studied, risk assessment by horned lizards conforms to the predictions of escape theory and is similar to that in other prey despite their specialized defenses. Our findings show that these specialized, derived defenses coexist with a taxonomically widespread, plesiomorphic method of making escape decisions. They suggest that escape theory based on costs and benefits, as intended, applies very generally, even to highly cryptic prey that have specialized defense mechanisms. [source]

Morphological correlates of ant eating in horned lizards (Phrynosoma)

The North American horned lizards (Phrynosoma) represent a morphologically specialized group of ant-eating lizards. Although variation in dietary fidelity is observed among the species, all appear to possess morphological specializations thought to be related to their ant-eating diets. Previous studies have examined morphological specialization in Phrynosoma, but they have not taken into account the phylogenetic relationships of its member species. In the present study, the morphological characteristics of the head, jaws and teeth that are thought to be important in prey capture and prey processing were examined to test whether variation in cranial morphology is associated with diet in lizards of the genus Phrynosoma. It is suggested that lizards of the genus Phrynosoma are indeed morphologically specialized and that ant-eating is associated with reduced dentition and an overall reduction in the robustness of morphological structures important in prey processing. Although this trend holds for the highly myrmecophagous species of Phrynosoma, a robust cranial morphology is apparent in the short-horned lizard clade (Phrynosoma ditmarsi, Phrynosoma douglasii, Phrynosoma hernandesi, Phrynosoma orbiculare), implying the ability to process a variety of dietary items. The present study suggests that additional feeding specializations exist within an already specialized clade (i.e. the short-horned lizard clade) and highlights the need for more detailed dietary and behavioural studies of feeding behaviour in this uniquely specialized group of lizards. 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 89, 13,24. [source]