Analysis of the locomotor activity of a nocturnal desert lizard (Reptilia: Gekkonidae: Teratoscincus scincus) under varying moonlight

Hervé Seligmann, Steven C. Anderson, Kellar Autumn, Amos Bouskila, Rachel Saf, Boris S. Tuniyev, Yehudah L. Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


1.This project seeks to identify determinants of the variation observed in the foraging behavior of predatory animals, especially in moonlight, using a lizard as a model.2.Moonlight generally enhances the foraging efficiency of nocturnal visual predators and often depresses the locomotor activity of prey animals. Previous evidence has indicated for three different nocturnal species of smallish gecko lizards that they respond to moonlight by increasing their activity.3.In this study some aspects of the foraging activity of the somewhat larger nocturnal psammophilous Teratoscincus scincus, observed near Repetek and Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, were significantly depressed by moonlight, while several confounding factors (sex, maturity, size, sand temperature, hour, prior handling and observer effect) were taken into account.4.This behavioral difference may relate to the eye size of the various species.5.Additionally, a novel method of analyzing foraging behavior shows that in this species the duration of moves increases the duration of subsequent stationary pauses. Measurement of locomotor speed, yielding an average speed of 220% of the maximum aerobic speed, indicates a need for these pauses. Secondarily, pause duration decreases the duration of subsequent moves, precluding escalation of move duration.6.The results of this and related projects advocate the taking into account of physiological and environmental factors that may affect an animal's foraging behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-117
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - 24 May 2007


  • Ambush foraging
  • Correlation and causation
  • Determinants of foraging behavior
  • Eye size
  • Posture in locomotion


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