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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: August 2010

13 - Foraging mode in the African cordylids and plasticity of foraging behavior in Platysaurus broadleyi



Understanding the evolution of key life history traits frequently involves searching for broad-scale patterns among diverse organisms (see, for example, Vitt et al., 2003). When consistent patterns emerge, particularly among members of multiple clades, our understanding of how suites of traits co-evolve is improved. In the process, new hypotheses are generated, allowing further testing of patterns and the mechanisms that generate them. The simplified goal of this book is to disentangle the evolution of foraging mode within a major vertebrate lineage: lizards. In particular, we wish to understand the relationship between foraging mode and a suite of co-evolved characters. Fundamental to lizard foraging theory is the tenet that foraging mode has greatly constrained (or shaped) the evolution of certain traits, including aspects of morphology and physiology. For example, ambush foragers are often tank-like and have a high relative clutch mass, relatively slow sprint speed and lower metabolic rate than active foragers, which are slender, relatively fast, and with lower relative clutch mass (Huey and Pianka, 1981; see references in Greeff and Whiting, 2000). More recently, there is accumulating evidence that although foraging mode has had a profound influence on aspects of lizard biology, foraging mode is deeply rooted in history (phylogeny) and only one of many traits explaining current lizard diversity (Perry, 1999; Vitt et al., 2003). Lizard foraging mode is also remarkably stable within entire clades (e.g. families) of lizards (Cooper, 1994, 1995).

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