Get access

Tail Autotomy Plays No Important Role in Influencing Locomotor Performance and Anti-Predator Behavior in a Cursorial Gecko

Authors

  • Hong-Liang Lu,

    1.  Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife of the Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, Zhejiang, China
    2.  Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Guo-Hua Ding,

    1.  Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ping Ding,

    1.  Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife of the Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, Zhejiang, China
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Xiang Ji

    1.  Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
    Search for more papers by this author

Xiang Ji, Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China.
E-mail: xji@mail.hz.zj.cn, xiangji150@hotmail.com

Abstract

We used the frog-eyed sand gecko (Teratoscincus scincus) as a model system to evaluate the locomotor costs of tail loss, and to examine whether tailless geckos use alternative anti-predator behavior to compensate for the costs of tail loss. Of the 16 field-captured geckos, eight were used as experimental animals and the remaining ones as controls. Locomotor performance, activity level and anti-predator behavior were measured for experimental geckos before and after the tail-removing treatment. Control geckos never undergoing the tail-removing manipulation were measured to serve as controls for the measurements taken at the same time for experimental geckos. Experimental geckos did not differ from controls in activity level before they underwent the tail-removing manipulation, but became less active thereafter. The mean locomotor stamina of tailless geckos was reduced by about 30% of the mean value for tailed ones. However, as the maximum stamina predicted from the laboratory trials is seldom required in nature, we expect that the costs associated with the reduced locomotor stamina may be relatively minor in T. scincus. All other examined locomotor (overall speed, maximal speed and stride length) and behavioral (distance to refuge, approach distance and flight distance) traits were not affected by the tail-removing manipulation. Overall, our results suggest that tail autotomy plays no important role in influencing locomotor performance and anti-predator behavior in lizards where the tail has no direct role in locomotion but is used to direct predatory strikes away from the torso.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary