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Behavioural ecology of Tropidurus hispidus on isolated rock outcrops in Amazonia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 July 2009

Laurie J. Vitt
Affiliation:
Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
Peter A. Zani
Affiliation:
Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA
Janalee P. Caldwell
Affiliation:
Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019, USA

Abstract

A population of the tropical lizard Tropidurus hispidus, isolated on a granitic rock outcrop in tropical forest of northern Brazil, was studied during the 1993 wet season. Four types of observational studies revealed that lizards are active throughout most of the day. During 10-minute intervals, individual lizards moved five times for an average of 240 cm and tongue-flicked once. Habitat temperatures vary considerably during the day, with rock and air temperatures in sun exceeding body temperatures of lizards during much of the activity period. During most of the day, lizards thermoregulate by moving among shady, filtered sun, and sunny microhabitats maintaining body temperatures near 35°C. Temperatures of lizards active during cloudy periods were significantly lower than temperatures of lizards during sunny periods, indicating that clouds decrease the ability of lizards to effectively thermoregulate. Most feeding occurs in the afternoon at edges of rock outcrops with ants, insect larvae, termites and beetles dominating the diet. Comparisons with a near-by savanna population revealed differences in body size (males only), activity period (longer on rocks), body temperatures (higher on rocks), number of prey categories consumed (lower on rocks), mean size of prey (larger on rocks), number of prey eaten (fewer on rocks) and microhabitat use (more restricted on rocks).

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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