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Prey use among sympatric lizard species in lowland rain forest of Nicaragua

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 1998

Laurie J. Vitt
Affiliation:
Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019 USA (e-mail vitt@ou.edu)
Peter A. Zani
Affiliation:
Department of Zoology and Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019 USA Present address: Department of Biology, University of Oregon, Eugine, OR 97403, USA, e-mail pzani@darkwing.uoregon.edu

Abstract

The diets of 17 lizard species (seven families) studied simultaneously in a Caribbean lowland forest of Nicaragua were compared. Lizards varied in body size over nearly one order of magnitude. Twelve species for which there were adequate samples separated by prey types and most diet overlaps were low. A pseudocommunity analysis on volumetric diet data revealed significant guild structure in the assemblage. At each nearest neighbour rank in niche space, observed overlaps were higher than expected based on chance alone when all values in the consumer-resource matrix were randomized. There was no difference between observed and pseudocommunity overlaps with zero positions in the consumer-resource matrix retained (conserved-zero overlaps) indicating that the zero structure of the community matrix was important in maintaining structure and that lizards were converging on key resources. Individual prey size varied among species and mean prey size was significantly correlated with body size of lizard species. A phylogenetic analysis revealed no relationship between similarity in prey use (dietary overlap) and evolutionary relationships — more closely related species did not eat more similar prey types. Based on this analysis of Nicaraguan lizard diets and comparisons with other New World tropical lizard assemblages, it is suggested that factors contributing to the organization of tropical lizard assemblages are complex including historical differences in morphology (size), prey types and sizes, habitat structure and species interactions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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