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Keywords:

  • Exploratory behavior;
  • introduction process;
  • invasion ecology;
  • Lampropholis ;
  • propagule pressure;
  • social tendency

Abstract

Invasive species represent a select subset of organisms that have successfully transitioned through each stage of the introduction process (transportation, establishment, and spread). Although there is a growing realization that behavior plays a critical role in invasion success, few studies have focused on the initial stages of introduction. We examined whether differences in the grouping tendencies and exploratory behavior of two sympatric lizard species could contribute to their divergent invasion success. While the nondirected activity of the two species did not differ, the invasive delicate skink (Lampropholis delicata) was found to be more exploratory than the congeneric noninvasive garden skink (L. guichenoti), which enabled it to more effectively locate novel environments and basking site resources. The delicate skink also exhibited a greater tendency to hide, which may act to enhance its probability of ensnarement in freight and cargo and decrease its likelihood of detection during transit. The grouping tendencies of the two species did not differ. Together, our results suggest that while the two species have an equivalent “opportunity” for unintentional human-assisted transportation, several pre-existing behavioral traits may enhance the success of the delicate skink in negotiating the initial stages of the introduction process, and subsequent post-establishment spread.