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Conspicuous blue tails, dorsal pattern morphs and escape behaviour in hatchling Iberian wall lizards (Podarcis hispanicus)

Ortega, Jesús, López, Pilar, Martín, José
Biological journal of the Linnean Society 2014 v.113 no.4 pp. 1094-1106
Podarcis, antipredatory behavior, body size, color, escape behavior, females, males, morphs, phenotype, predation, reflectance, sexual dimorphism, tail, wall lizards
Predation has profound effects on the phenotypes of animal prey and, in lizards, the relationship between coloration and antipredatory behaviour has been studied in depth. However, studies that address the relationships between dorsal patterns and tail coloration with escape behaviour in polymorphic lizards are absent in the literature. We describe dorsal morphs and measured tail coloration and escape behaviour in hatchling Iberian wall lizards, Podarcis hispanicus, a species with a previously undescribed female‐restricted dorsal polymorphism (reticulated‐blotched males, and either striped or reticulated‐blotched females) and juvenile tails with conspicuous blue coloration, which is probably used to divert predator attacks towards the autotomizable tail. Overall we provide evidence for the existence of sexual dimorphism in tail ultraviolet reflectance between reticulated females and males, with striped females being intermediate. We identified sex/dorsal morph, body size and tail brightness as predictors of different aspects of escape behaviour and suggest the existence of two alternative escape strategies between striped and reticulated‐blotched females that may be dependent on dorsal morph differences, independently of sex. Reticulated‐blotched females, and also males (all reticulated‐blotched), ran faster and spent less time paused than striped females, which might reflect an escape behaviour strategy based on endurance in striped females. In addition, lowland males displayed tail waving as a ‘last resort’ antipredator strategy that may be related to fatigue. We concluded that hatchling antipredatory behaviour is influenced by both dorsal pattern and tail conspicuousness.