Behavioral responses of a predator, the round-tailed lizard (<i>Phrynosoma modestum</i>) and its prey, honey-pit ants (<i>Myrmecocystus</i> ssp)

TitleBehavioral responses of a predator, the round-tailed lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) and its prey, honey-pit ants (Myrmecocystus ssp)
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1979
AuthorsShaffer DT
Number of Pages27
Date Published1979
UniversityNew Mexico State University
CityLas Cruces, New Mexico
Thesis TypeM.S. Thesispp
Call Number00297
Keywordsant, Myrmecocystus, dissertation, dissertations, honey-pot ant,SEE <Myrmecocystus, lizard, ant predation, lizard, behavior, lizard,Phrynosoma,behavior, lizard,round-tailed horned lizard, Myrmecocystus, Phrynosoma,ant predation, predation,of ants, reptile, also SEE <LIZARD>, theses, thesis
AbstractRound-tailed horned lizards (Phrynosoma modestum) were observed during times of activity to record the different kinds of behaviors displayed, the time spent at each behavior and the kind and number of prey items taken. Ant species of the genus Myrmecocystus were the most important prey. The behavioral responses of the prey were studied by subjecting them to varying levels of simulated predation. Phrynosoma modestum fed most often on foraging ants that were coming down out of foliage, mostly mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), where the ants had been feeding during the day. The lizards rarely fed at nest openings, preferring to wait under the brush for the ants returning to the nests. The results of the simulated predation study indicate that the lizards can take up to 10 ants per day from a Myrmecocystus spp. colony without affecting the activity of that colony. Myrmecocystus spp. occur on the study site at an average density of 21 +- 7 nests per hectare (range 10-27 nests/ha). Phrynosoma modestum fed at an average rate of 3.9 +- 2.2 ants/bout (range 1-8) with 7.0 +- 1.7 bouts/hour (range 6-9).