lunes, 19 de octubre de 2015

New publication on spring population dynamics of lizards

Pérez-Mellado, V., Garcia-Diez, T., Hernández-Estévez, J.A. & Tavecchia, G. : Behavioural processes, ephemeral resources and spring population dynamics of an insular lizard, Podarcis lilfordi (Squamata: Lacertidae). Italian Journal of Zoology doi: 10.1080/11250003.2015.1093035

Abstract: Temporal changes in adult sex ratio of animal populations might be due to differences in movements, survival or detection probabilities. We used data from an intensive capture–mark–recapture study of 720 lizards at the islet of Aire (Balearic Islands, Spain) to investigate the demographic mechanisms underlying the spring uneven sex ratio. We simultaneously estimated survival (f), the proportion of transient animals (p) and the probability of recapture (p) of lizards at the study plot.
Photo: G. Tavecchia
We then estimated population size using open population models for individually based data and compared these with the observed values. Results indicated that males had a higher probability of recapture than females, but this was not sufficient to generate the observed male-biased sex ratio. The proportion of transient males decreased at the end of spring in parallel with the end of the blooming period of the dead horse arum, Helicodiceros muscivorus, a short-lasting food and thermoregulation resource for lizards during spring. Changes in the proportion of transients suggested that sex-dependent movements, most likely linked to a monopolising behaviour of this plant resource, were responsible for the observed difference in the number of males and females. Our results reveal how the interplay of behavioural and ecological factors explains short-term changes in population dynamics and shapes the movement patterns within the island.

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