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Chemical discrimination of sympatric snakes by the mountain lizard Iberolacerta galani (Squamata: Lacertidae)

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We conducted an experiment on chemical discrimination of two saurophagous snakes (the smooth snake, Coronella austriaca and the Seoane's viper, Vipera seoanei) as well as the aquatic Natrix maura, by the mountain lizard Iberolacerta galani. Using terraria, 24 lizards were exposed to scents by the three snakes as well as an odourless control. We quantified fourteen behavioural variables, twelve of which significantly differed among treatments. Lizards are able to recognise the scents of both predatory snakes, and react to them with intense antipredatory responses. The antipredatory behaviour found in I. galani was similar for the scents of the two different predatory snakes, despite differences in their foraging behaviour. The behaviour displayed by lizards confronted with chemical cues suggests an adaptation to minimise the likelihood of being attacked.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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