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Is naïveté forever? Alien predator and aggressor recognition by two endemic island reptiles

Abstract : The disproportionate impacts of invasive predators are often attributed to the naïveté (i.e., inefficient or nonexisting anti-predator behavior) of island native species having evolved without such predators. Naïveté has long been regarded as a fixed characteristic, but a few recent studies indicate a capacity for behavioral adaptation in native species in contact with alien predators. Here, we tested whether two reptiles endemic to New Caledonia, a skink, Caledoniscincus austrocaledonicus, and a gecko, Bavayia septuiclavis, recognized and responded to the odor of six introduced species (two rodents, the feral cat, and three species of ants). We used an experimental design in which reptiles had a choice of retreat sites with or without the odor of predators or aggressors. Skinks avoided two or three of the predators, whereas geckos avoided at most one. These results suggest that diurnal skinks are more responsive than nocturnal geckos to the odor of introduced predators. Neither skinks nor geckos avoided the three species of ants. Thus, the odors of alien predators are shown to influence retreat site selection by two native island reptiles. Moreover, the study suggests that this loss of naïveté varies among native species, probably as a consequence of the intensity of the threat and of time since introduction. These findings argue for rethinking the behavioral flexibility of ectothermic reptiles in terms of their responses to biological invasion.
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https://hal-amu.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03559052
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Submitted on : Saturday, February 5, 2022 - 6:23:20 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 3:03:09 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, May 6, 2022 - 6:11:35 PM

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A. Gérard, H. Jourdan, C. Cugnière, A. Millon, E. Vidal. Is naïveté forever? Alien predator and aggressor recognition by two endemic island reptiles. The Science of Nature Naturwissenschaften, Springer Verlag, 2014, 101 (11), pp.921 - 927. ⟨10.1007/s00114-014-1233-8⟩. ⟨hal-03559052⟩

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