Deforestation may increase predation risk for prey because it may make prey more conspicuous and limit the number of refuges suitable to avoid predators. Therefore, prey may need to increase the magnitude of escape responses. However, excessive antipredatory effort might lead to a loss of body mass and a decrease in defense against parasites, with important consequences for short- and long-term fitness. We analyzed whether Psammodromus algirus (L., 1758) lizards that inhabit patches with different levels of deterioration of the vegetation within the same oak forest differed in relative abundance numbers, microhabitat use, antipredatory strategies, and health state. Results showed lizards selected similar microhabitats regardless of the level of deterioration of the vegetation and relative abundance of lizards was similar in both areas. However, habitat deterioration seemed to increase predation risk, at least for females, because they were detected at longer distances in deteriorated areas. Females seemed to adjust their antipredatory behavior accordingly to high risk of predation by increasing approach distances allowed to predators. The costs associated with frequent antipredatory displays might explain why females in deteriorated habitats had lower body condition and greater blood parasite loads than females in natural areas. This loss of body condition and increased parasitemia might have deleterious consequences for female fitness and therefore affect the maintenance of lizard populations in the long-term.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology-Revue Canadienne De Zoologie
Journal publication date2007

ID: 286737