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Competition with wall lizards does not explain the alpine confinement of Iberian rock lizards: an experimental approach

AuthorsMonasterio, Camila; Salvador Milla, Alfredo ; Díaz, José A.
KeywordsInterspecific competition
Agonistic behaviour
Microhabitat selection
Iberolacerta cyreni
Podarcis muralis
Issue Date2010
CitationZoology 113(5): 275-282 (2010)
AbstractInterspecific competition can limit the distribution of species along altitudinal gradients. It has been suggested that Western European rock lizards (genus Iberolacerta) are restricted to mountains due to the expansion of wall lizards (Podarcis), but there is no experimental evidence to corroborate this hypothesis. This study examines if interference competition with Podarcis muralis is a plausible explanation for the alpine confinement of Iberian rock lizards Iberolacerta cyreni. In a first experiment, we used an enclosure with four types of microhabitats to investigate whether adult rock and/or wall lizards shifted microhabitat or refuge preferences in the presence of the other species, and to detect aggressive interactions between them. In a second experiment, we staged heterospecific encounters between naïve, laboratoryborn juveniles to identify behavioural differences and agonistic interactions. In the enclosure, neither rock nor wall lizards changed their microhabitat preferences in the presence of the other species. Nevertheless, rock lizards increased the diversity of microhabitats and nocturnal refuges used in the single species trials, which had twice the number of conspecifics. Aggressive interactions involved mainly large rock lizard males. Juveniles did not show any interspecific agonistic behaviour, but rock lizards spent more time basking and less time moving. Thus, we found no evidence of competition between both species in terms of habitat shifts or agonistic interactions, although intraspecific interactions seemed to explain the behaviour of adult rock lizards. We conclude that other factors are currently determining the alpine confinement of rock lizards.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2010.03.003
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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