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Heliotherms in tropical rain forest: the ecology of Kentropyx calcarata (Teiidae) and Mabuya nigropunctata (Scincidae) in the Curuá-Una of Brazil

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:
Department of Zoology and Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, 73019, USA
A. Claudia Marinho Lima
Affiliation:
Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi/DZO, Caixa Postal 399, 66017-970 Belém, Pará, Brasil

Abstract

Kentropyx calcarata (Teiidae) and Mabuya nigropunctata (Scincidae) occur together in lowland tropical forest of the Amazon near the Rio Curuá-Una of Brazil. During the wet season of 1995 these lizards were common at forest edge along narrow roads that transect forest, in treefalls and along streams where sun reaches the ground. Both species are heliothermic, basking to gain heat. Their association with open patches results from high activity temperature requirements in an environment where sun availability is low. Null temperature distributions from forest and treefalls showed that forest does not offer opportunities for heat gain similar to treefalls. Moreover, the large proportion of time spent basking by both species indicates the importance of these patches for thermoregulation. K. calcarata is slightly larger in body length and heavier at a given body length than M. nigropunctata. Both species are active foragers that seek out prey while moving through the habitat, feeding on orthopterans, roaches and spiders. M. nigropunctata also eat significant numbers of insects that occur on vegetation, such as hemipterans. Prey size is larger in K. calcarata and associated with lizard body size. Prey size does not vary with body size in M. nigropunctata and prey are typically relatively small.

Many of the ecological differences between these two lowland forest species appear to be historical: the ecology of K. calcarata is very similar to that of other species of Kentropyx and teiids in general and the ecology of M. nigropunctata is most similar to that of other studied species of south American Mabuya.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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Heliotherms in tropical rain forest: the ecology of Kentropyx calcarata (Teiidae) and Mabuya nigropunctata (Scincidae) in the Curuá-Una of Brazil
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