Innate antipredator responses are integral for survival in many species, particularly those which lack parental care. Antipredator responses include both active (fight or flight) and passive behaviours (immobility). As the success of antipredator responses directly relates to survival and fitness, investigating the drivers that explain variance in these traits is key to understanding how predation shapes the instinctive behaviour of animals. We quantified innate antipredator behaviour of hatchling Australian water dragons (Intellagama lesueurii) immediately after hatching using a model snake to simulate a series of attacks, and scored their behaviour using a fight or flight index. Then we explored which factors were related to dragon antipredator behaviour, such as habitat disturbance, origin population, morphology, and parental genetic effects and phenotype (clutch effects). We developed multiple hypotheses and used model selection to determine which factors drive variation in hatchling antipredator behaviour. Clutch effects explained a significant proportion of variation in innate antipredator responses, suggesting a heritable component. We also found an effect of body size on innate antipredator behaviour: larger hatchlings were more prone to flight behaviour (e.g. short-distance runs and long-distance sprinting), while smaller individuals were more prone to standing their ground and being aggressive (e.g. throat puffing, mouth
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology – Springer Journals
Published: May 28, 2018
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