The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

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pdf 03. Thermal effects on the antipredator behaviour of snakes a review and proposed terminology


Open Access


Authors: Akira Mori And Gordon M. Burghardt

Abstract: The effects of temperature on the antipredator responses of snakes have been extensively studied during the last two decades. Several contradictory results have accumulated concerning the effects of temperature on the propensity of snakes to perform various behaviour patterns. We review this literature and discuss four possible factors related to these apparently contradictory results: (I) inconsistency in terms used to characterize antipredator behaviour; (2) erroneous citations; (3) interspecific differences; and (4) variable experimental designs. The last two factors reflect biologically important phenomena, whereas the first two are artificial "noise" that causes confusion and hinders scientific interpretation. To resolve inconsistency in wording, we propose a consistent terminology for the antipredator responses of snakes. Antipredator responses were characterized from three dimensions: (I) categorization from the viewpoint of whether prey animals move towards or away from predators (response is considered as either "approach", "neutral", or "withdrawal"); (2) categorization from the viewpoint of how much movement is involved in the behaviour (response is considered either "locomotive", "active-inplace'', or "static"); and (3) categorization in terms of the apparent function (response is characterized as either "threatening'', "cryptic", or "escape"). Anti predator responses of snakes, not only in relation to temperature but also in any situation, can be well characterized from these three perspectives using the proposed terminology.

Keywords: defences, predator-prey interaction, reptile, temperature effect

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