Tail loss and thermoregulation in the common lizard Zootoca vivipara

G. Herczeg, Tibor Kovács, Tamás Tóth, J. Török, Zoltán Korsós, Juha Merilä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tail autotomy in lizards is an adaptive strategy that has evolved to reduce the risk of predation. Since tail loss reduces body mass and moving ability - which in turn are expected to influence thermal balance - there is potential for a trade-off between tail autotomy and thermoregulation. To test this hypothesis, we studied a common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) population at high latitude, inhabiting a high-cost thermal environment. Z. vivipara is a small, non-territorial lizard known as a very accurate thermoregulator. We made two predictions: (1) the reduced body weight due to tail loss results in faster heating rate (a benefit), and (2) the reduction in locomotor ability after tail loss induces a shift to the use of thermally poorer microhabitats (a cost), thus decreasing the field body temperatures of active lizards. We did not find any effect of tail loss on heating rate in laboratory experiments conducted under different thermal conditions. Likewise, no significant relationship between tail condition and field body temperatures, or between tail condition and thermal microhabitat use, were detected. Thus, our results suggest that tail autotomy does not influence the accuracy of thermoregulation in small-bodied lizards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-488
Number of pages4
JournalDie Naturwissenschaften
Volume91
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004

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thermoregulation
Lizards
Body Temperature Regulation
lizard
lizards
Tail
autotomy
tail
Heating rate
heat
body temperature
microhabitat
Hot Temperature
heating
microhabitats
Body Temperature
Costs
Heating
cost
body mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Ecology

Cite this

Tail loss and thermoregulation in the common lizard Zootoca vivipara. / Herczeg, G.; Kovács, Tibor; Tóth, Tamás; Török, J.; Korsós, Zoltán; Merilä, Juha.

In: Die Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 91, No. 10, 10.2004, p. 485-488.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Herczeg, G. ; Kovács, Tibor ; Tóth, Tamás ; Török, J. ; Korsós, Zoltán ; Merilä, Juha. / Tail loss and thermoregulation in the common lizard Zootoca vivipara. In: Die Naturwissenschaften. 2004 ; Vol. 91, No. 10. pp. 485-488.
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