Do alternate escape tactics provide a means of compensation for impaired performance ability?




Whole-animal performance abilities can facilitate the avoidance of predation and consequently influence fitness, but determining the functional significance of antipredation tactics is difficult without understanding how alternate predator escape strategies are related. We measured maximal sprint speed and dive duration in the semi-aquatic skink Oligosoma suteri to determine how morphology and behaviour influence these alternate predator escape techniques and the relationship between the two measures. Gravid females and juveniles ran significantly slower, but had equivalent or longer dive durations than males and nongravid females. The two performance measures were not influenced by the same morphological and behavioural traits, and were not correlated among individuals. Thus, individuals that are poor sprinters because of their state (e.g. gravid or tail-less individuals) would have a greater likelihood of successful escape by adopting an alternate escape strategy. For species that use multiple strategies for the same function, quantifying selection on whole-animal performance will be difficult. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 99, 241–249.