Mainland versus island differences in behaviour of Podarcis lizards confronted with dangerous prey: The scorpion Buthus occitanus

A. M. Castilla, A. Herrel, A. Gosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid divergence in behaviour of populations invading novel habitats is often considered adaptive as it may allow a species to exploit novel resources. Here we explore the behavioural response of two closely related species of Podarcis lizards living in different habitats, the Spanish mainland and a dry volcanic island, towards a potentially dangerous prey. Our results show that whereas insular lizards attacked scorpions and consequently considered them to be potential prey, mainland lizards tended to flee or ignored them. Sexual differences in the response to scorpions were pronounced in the insular habitat. Males tended to attack scorpions while females tended to ignore them. Inter-specific and inter-sexual differences in the responses of lizards may be mediated by body size differences between populations and sexes. The rapid changes in behaviour allowing insular lizards to recognize scorpions as potential prey may have allowed these animals to capitalize on an abundant food resource in a depauperate environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2331-2342
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Natural History
Issue number35-36
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Columbretes
  • Evolution
  • Feeding
  • Mediterranean
  • Poison
  • Sexual differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Ecology

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