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Diet of juvenile lizards, Uma exsul, from Coahuila, Mexico

Author(s): Joshua J. Schulte, Geoffrey R. Smith, and Julio A. Lemos-Espinal

Source: The Southwestern Naturalist, 62(1):69-71.
Published By: Southwestern Association of Naturalists

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Department of Biology, Denison University, Granville, OH 43023 (JJS, GRS)

Laboratorio de Ecologa, Unidad de Biologa, Tecnologa y Prototipos, FES Iztacala, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Av.
De los Barrios # 1, Col. Los Reyes Iztacala, Tlalnepantla, Estado de Mexico, Mexico (JLE)

ABSTRACTWe examined the diets of 43 juveniles of the lizard Uma exsul from Coahuila, Mexico. The diet
was composed primarily of adult and larval beetles. The diets of two females collected at the same time and
place as the juveniles included beetles as the most important item but hemipterans, ants, and other
hymenopterans were also important. Our observations suggest that the differences between the diets of
juvenile U. exsul in this study and adult U. exsul in another study likely reflect both local abundances of prey
and ontogenetic changes.

RESUMENExaminamos la dieta de 43 juveniles de la lagartija Uma exsul de Coahuila, Mexico. La dieta

estuvo compuesta principalmente de larvas y adultos de escarabajos. La dieta de dos hembras recolectadas al
mismo tiempo y en el mismo lugar que los juveniles incluyo escarabajos como la presa mas importante, pero
hempteros, hormigas y otros himenopteros tambien fueron importantes. Nuestras observaciones sugieren
que las diferencias entre la dieta de juveniles de U. exsul en este estudio y adultos de U. exsul en otro estudio
probablemente reflejen tanto las abundancias locales de presas como cambios ontogeneticos.

The diets of juvenile lizards can differ from those of found in the semistabilized sand dunes, characterized by
adults, either in breadth or composition (Znari and El sparse vegetation that includes mesquite (Prosopis glandulo-
Mouden, 1997; Duffield and Bull, 1998; Azocar and sa) and a variety of herbaceous plants that often grow in
Acosta, 2011; Raya-Garca et al., 2015), although this is dense clusters which serve as refugia for U. exsul (J. A.
not always the case (Teixeira-Filho et al., 2003). In Lemos-Espinal, pers. observ.). Uma exsul is the most
addition, the foraging ecology and profitability of abundant and conspicuous reptile in this area (J. A.
neonate or juvenile lizards may differ from that of adults Lemos-Espinal, pers. observ.). Other reptile species in the
(Watters, 2010). However, few studies have examined study area include Gambelia wislizenii, Coleonyx brevis,
large series of juveniles, nor are juvenile diets available for Phrynosoma cornutum, Apsidoscelis marmorata, Uta stansburiana,
many species of lizards. Masticophis flagellum, Rhynochelius lecontei, Pituophis catenifer,
We examined the stomach contents of 43 juvenile Uma Thamnophis marcianus, and Crotalus scutulatus.
exsul from the Herpetological collection of the Unidad de Adult U. exsul have been described as generalists in terms
Biologa, Tecnologa y Prototipos, Laboratorio de Ecologa, of their diet (Gadsden et al., 2001). Gadsden et al. (2001)
Facultad de Estudios Superiores, Universidad Nacional found that formicids were the most common item in the
Autonoma de Mexico, Iztacala, Mexico, Mexico. These diet of adult U. exsul across the year, with other hymenop-
specimens were collected from Dunas de Bilbao, municipio terans and hemipterans also being important seasonally.
Viesca, Coahuila (25825 0 26.7 0 0 N, 102853 0 40.2 0 0 W; 1,115 m) Uma exsul also respond to chemical cues of both plants and
on 1314 July 2004 (Smith et al., 2005). The Dunas de animals, suggesting a potentially broad diet (Cooper et al.,
Bilbao is an extensive sand dune area of approximately 10 2006). Our goal was to compare the diets from the juvenile
km2 located approximately 65 km east-southeast of the city U. exsul that we studied to the previous study of diet in adult
of Torreon. The area is composed of active, semi-stabilized, U. exsul to see if there are any indications they might differ.
and stabilized sand dunes. Individual U. exsul are typically We measured snout-vent length (to nearest 0.1 cm
70 The Southwestern Naturalist vol. 62, no. 1

TABLE 1Diet of 43 juvenile Uma exsul from Coahuila, Mexico, collected on 1314 July 2004. Proportion of totals given in
parentheses. IV = importance value.

Taxon Number of items Volume Stomachs IV

Araneae 1 (0.002) 0.01 (0) 1 (0.023) 0.025

ColeopteraAdults 425 (0.724) 295.4 (0.683) 42 (0.977) 2.284
ColeopteraLarvae 119 (0.203) 136.41 (0.316) 16 (0.372) 0.891
Diptera 6 (0.010) 0.03 (0.0001) 5 (0.116) 0.126
Hemiptera 21 (0.036) 0.1 (0.0002) 12 (0.279) 0.315
Homoptera 1 (0.002) 0.01 (0) 1 (0.023) 0.025
Hymenoptera (non-ant) 10 (0.017) 0.06 (0.0001) 9 (0.209) 0.226
Hymenoptera (ant) 1 (0.002) 0 (0) 1 (0.023) 0.025
Unidentified larvae 3 (0.005) 0.33 (0.0008) 2 (0.046) 0.052
Total 587 432.35 43
Niche breadth 1.77 1.77

using a plastic ruler), head width (to nearest 0.01 cm were less prevalent but much more important than other
using a digital caliper), and head length (to nearest 0.01 prey items.
cm using a digital caliper) of each specimen (one We also examined the stomach contents of two adult
specimen was inadvertently not measured, thus n for female U. exsul (snout-vent length = 6.8 and 6.5 cm)
measurements is 42). We removed the stomach contents collected at the same time and place as the series of
of each individual via dissection. We identified each prey juveniles. The diets of these two females included beetles
item to the lowest taxonomic level possible (generally as the most important item, but hemipterans were also
order) and measured the maximum length and width important as were ants and hymenopterans (Table 2).
using a digital caliper (to nearest 0.1 mm). We used Our observations on the diets of juvenile U. exsul differ
BugRun to estimate prey volume (using the equation of a from previous reports of adult diets in U. exsul. While our
prolate spheroid) as well as niche breadth on prey study and that of Gadsden et al. (2001) both identified
number and volume (Vitt and Zani, 2005). We calculated insects as the main food items, these two studies
an importance value (IV) for each prey taxon (i) using identified different main food items (beetles, our study;
the sum of the proportions of total prey items (pNi), total ants, Gadsden et al., 2001). However, beetles and
prey volume (pVi), and total number of stomachs (pSi) hemipterans were present in summer (JulySeptember)
represented by prey item i (Powell et al., 1990): samples from adults of U. exsul in Gadsden et al. (2001)
but not at the same proportions as in the juveniles in our
IVi = pNi + pVi + pSi
study. Possible explanations for these differences include
Mean snout-vent length of the juvenile U. exsul was 3.77 differences in the seasonal timing of collection and
0.05 cm (n = 42; range = 34.5 cm). Mean head width differences in the local availability of prey. However, the
was 0.708 0.007 cm (n = 42; range = 0.580.8 cm) and diets of the juveniles we collected in July were still
mean head length was 0.897 0.010 cm (n = 42; range = different from the adult females we collected as well as
0.791.02 cm). from the summer (JulySeptember) sample examined by
For the juvenile U. exsul that we examined, the diet was Gadsden et al. (2001). Thus, it seems unlikely that season
composed primarily of adult and larval beetles (Table 1). could explain much of the differences that we observed.
Indeed, adult beetles represented 72.4% of the total Unfortunately, data on prey availability at the study site
number of prey items, 68.3% of the total volume of prey, are not available. In addition, differences between our
and were found in 97.7% of all stomachs. Larval beetles observations and Gadsden et al. (2001) could reflect
differences in ontogenetic stage. The limited data on
TABLE 2Diet of two adult Uma exsul from Coahuila, Mexico, adult diet from our study suggest that the differences
collected on 1314 July 2004. Proportion of totals given in observed above likely reflect both local abundances of
parentheses. IV = importance value. prey (i.e., beetles still important in the two adults in our
study but not in the Gadsden et al., 2001) and potential
Taxon of items Volume Stomachs IV ontogenetic changes (i.e., beetles important for both
adults and juveniles, but with other diet items such as ants
Coleoptera 10 (0.526) 0.166 (0.464) 2 (1.0) 1.99 also important for adults, even when only two adults were
Hemiptera 4 (0.210) 0.146 (0.408) 1 (0.5) 1.12 examined). Differences between adults and juveniles
Hymenoptera 1 (0.053) 0.025 (0.070) 1 (0.5) 0.623 could also reflect differences in gape size. However, in
Formicidae 4 (0.210) 0.021 (0.059) 1 (0.5) 0.769
the two adult female U. exsul we examined, the maximum
Total 19 0.358 2
prey width of the prey items observed was 0.53 cm, which
March 2017 Notes 71

is less than the mean head width for the juveniles we Diet of the Mexican fringe-toed lizard (Uma exsul). Journal of
examined. Also, only one of the prey items (out of 19) Herpetology 35:493496.
found in the two adult females we examined had a length POWELL, R., J. S. PARMERLEE, JR., M. A. RICE, AND D. D. SMITH. 1990.
(0.92 cm) greater than the mean head length of the Ecological observations of Hemidactylus brookii haitianus
juveniles we examined. In addition, one of the biggest Meerwarth (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from Hispaniola. Caribbe-
differences between adults and juveniles in our study is an Journal of Science 26:667670.
the higher abundance of ants, a small prey item, in the RAYA-GARCIA, E., I. SUAZO-ORTUNO, AND J. ALVARADO-DIAZ. 2015. Diet
adult individuals as compared to the juveniles. Thus, of the Tepalcatepec Valley Whiptail, Aspidoscelis calidipes
while gape size may contribute to some of the differences (Squamata: Teiidae), in Michoacan, Mexico. Southwestern
that we observed, we do not believe it is a major factor Naturalist 60:127130.
driving prey differences between adults and juveniles. SMITH, H. M., J. A. LEMOS-ESPINAL, AND D. CHISZAR. 2005. 2004
Clearly, additional work is needed to address these amphibians and lizards from Sonora, Chihuahua and
Coahuila. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society
possibilities, but our observations do suggest that juvenile
diets in U. exsul may differ from those of adults.
TEIXEIRA-FILHO, P. F., C. F. D. ROCHA, AND S. C. RIBAS. 2003. Relative
We thank the late Hobart Smith for facilitating the loan of feeding specialization may depress ontogenetic, seasonal,
these specimens. Two anonymous reviewers helped improve the and sexual variations in diet: the endemic lizard Cnemidopho-
manuscript. rus littoralis (Teiidae). Brazilian Journal of Biology 63:321
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GADSDEN, H., L. E. PALACIOS-ORONA, AND G. A. CRUZ-SOTO. 2001. Associate Editor was Charles Matthew Watson.





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