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Predator Diversion Adaptation in Juveniles of Plestiodon multivirgatus, the Many-Lined Skink

Covill, Toby F
Rosenthal, William
harrington, sean
Wagner, Catherine
Plestiodon multivirgatus , commonly known as the many-lined skink, possesses a blue tail as a juvenile that it loses as it matures. The trait is believed to serve as a predator diversion tactic but this hypothesis has not been tested in this species. We used a clay model predation experiment to examine the effects of the trait on avian predation. We found that the presence of a blue tail significantly increased the average distance of avian attack towards the tail of the model and altered the distribution of attacks on the body and tail. Blue-tailed models were also found to be attacked less than black-tailed ones. These results suggest that the blue tails do serve to aid in evading predation, and additionally suggest an aposematic function as well. The second conclusion contradicts previous experiments examining similar traits, opening new avenues for future research into this understudied species.
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Plestiodon multivirgatus,Predator Diversion,Coloration,Functional Morphology,Skinks
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