Foraging modes of cordyliform lizards

Cooper Jr. W.E. ; Whiting M.J. ; Van Wyk J.H. (1997)


The first quantitative data on foraging mode in the cordyliform lizards reveal different foraging behaviours between and within families. All species of cordylids studied (four Cordylus, two Pseudocordylus, and one Platysaurus) are ambush foragers. However, the species of Cordylus and Pseudocordylus microlepidotus are the most extreme ambushers. These species spent a significantly lower per cent time moving than did all of the other species studied and made significantly fewer movements per minute than Platysaurus capensis and gerrhosaurids. In addition, P. microlepidotus made significantly fewer movements per minute than did its congener Pseudocordylus capensis. Possible reasons for the high number of movements per minute in Platysaurus capensis are discussed. Very limited observations of two gerrhosaurid species show that Cordylosaurus subtessellatus is an active forager and Gerrhosaurus validus forages actively at least some of the time. A tentative hypothesis of the evolution of cordyliform foraging behaviour based on very limited data hints that active foraging is plesiomorphic in the Gerrhosaurini and further that gerrhosaurids may have retained active foraging from the common ancestor of Scincidae and Cordyliformes. Somewhat stronger data suggest that ambush foraging arose in the common ancestor of Cordylidae or Cordylinae. Further study is needed to trace inter- and intrageneric changes in foraging mode in cordylids.

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