Experimental support for the cost-benefit model of lizard thermoregulation: the effects of predation risk and food supply

Gabor Herczeg, Annika Herrero, Jarmo Saarikivi, Abigel Gonda, Maria Jäntti, Juha Merilä

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"Huey and Slatkin's (Q Rev Biol 51:363-384, 1976) cost-benefit model of lizard thermoregulation predicts variation in thermoregulatory strategies (from active thermoregulation to thermoconformity) with respect to the costs and benefits of the thermoregulatory behaviour and the thermal quality of the environment. Although this framework has been widely employed in correlative field studies, experimental tests aiming to evaluate the model are scarce. We conducted laboratory experiments to see whether the common lizard Zootoca vivipara, an active and effective thermoregulator in the field, can alter its thermoregulatory behaviour in response to differences in perceived predation risk and food supply in a constant thermal environment. Predation risk and food supply were represented by chemical cues of a sympatric snake predator and the lizards' food in the laboratory, respectively. We also compared males and postpartum females, which have different preferred or ""target"" body temperatures. Both sexes thermoregulated actively in all treatments. We detected sex-specific differences in the way lizards adjusted their accuracy of thermoregulation to the treatments: males were less accurate in the predation treatment, while no such effects were detected in females. Neither sex reacted to the food treatment. With regard to the two main types of thermoregulatory behaviour (activity and microhabitat selection), the treatments had no significant effects. However, postpartum females were more active than males in all treatments. Our results further stress that increasing physiological performance by active thermoregulation has high priority in lizard behaviour, but also shows that lizards can indeed shift their accuracy of thermoregulation in response to costs with possible immediate negative fitness effects (i.e. predation-caused mortality)."
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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