JMIH 2014: Who’s There? The Importance of Familiarity in Discrimination of Avian Calls by the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

brown_anole_auditoryI saw two talks on brown anoles in the same session this afternoon at JMIH. The second reported on the response of brown anoles (A. sagrei) to potential avian predators. Lisa Cantwell presented results of her work with Joe Altobelli and Sandy Echternacht on the behavior of brown anoles exposed to the calls of potential avian predators in a controlled laboratory environment. Cantwell has previously reported that anoles respond more strongly to the calls of predator birds than to white noise or non-predator birds (see also prior work on A. cristatellus in response to predator and non-predatory birds). Cantwell played the calls of four bird species to captive brown anoles and monitored their reactions. The four birds in the study included one species that co-occurs with, and preys upon, A. sagrei: the American Kestrel. The other birds were species that do not co-occur with A. sagrei: the White-rumped Falcon (gotta love the ornithologists and their descriptive common names), the Shikra, and the Lesser Kestrel (this name seems kind of demeaning and should probably be changed). Cantwell tested if the anoles responded more to the predator that they or their ancestors have likely encountered in nature than to the calls of predators that they or their ancestors have likely never encountered. The types of reactions that were viewed as indicative of increased vigilance in the lizards included head shifts, eye opening, and movement around the enclosure. Although Cantwell found that the lizards responded to all of the various bird stimuli at a similar level to white noise, she hypothesized that this resulted from hyper-vigilance in a contrived laboratory environment. She also reported that the lizards responded significantly more quickly to the American Kestrel and that they remained vigilant for twice as long in response to this sympatric predator than they did in response to the non-sympatric predators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)