Sex does not affect tail autotomy in lacertid lizards

Panayiotis Pafilis, Kostas Sagonas, Grigoris Kapsalas, Johannes Foufopoulos, Efstratios D. Valakos


Caudal autotomy is one of the most effective and widespread defensive mechanisms among lizards. When predators grasp the tail, lizards are able to shed it from the point of the attack and further. Numerous factors have been reported to affect tail-shedding performance such as temperature, age, predation pressure, intraspecific competition etc. Interestingly, the impact of sex on tail loss remains greatly understudied. Here, we analyzed tail autotomy performance, simulated in the lab, in 12 species of lacertid lizards belonging to five genera (Algyroides, Anatololacerta, Hellenolacerta, Ophisops, Podarcis). Our aim was to investigate whether sex affects caudal autotomy and/or the duration of post-autotomic tail movement. We failed to detect any effect of sex on tail loss in the species examined. Also, we did not find any sexual impact on the duration of tail movement after autotomy, with a single exception. Our findings suggest that autotomy serves as a defensive tactic equally in both sexes and is used in the same extent. 

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