Endure your parasites: Sleepy lizard (tiliqua rugosa) movement is not affected by their ectoparasites

Patrick L. Taggart, Stephan T. Leu, Orr Spiegel, Stephanie S. Godfrey, Andrew Sih, C. Michael Bull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Movement is often used to indicate host vigour, as it has various ecological and evolutionary implications, and has been shown to be affected by parasites. We investigate the relationship between tick load and movement in the Australian Sleepy Lizard (Tiliqua rugosa (Gray, 1825)) using high resolution GPS tracking. This allowed us to track individuals across the entire activity season. We hypothesized that tick load negatively affects host movement (mean distance moved per day). We used a multivariate statistical model informed by the ecology and biology of the host and parasite, their host–parasite relationship, and known host movement patterns. This allowed us to quantify the effects of ticks on lizard movement above and beyond effects of other factors such as time in the activity season, lizard body condition, and stress. We did not find any support for our hypothesis. Instead, our results provide evidence that lizard movement is strongly driven by internal state (sex and body condition independent of tick load) and by external factors (environmental conditions). We suggest that the Sleepy Lizard has largely adapted to natural levels of tick infection in this system. Our results conform to host–parasite arms race theory, which predicts varying impacts of parasites on hosts in natural systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1316
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Body-mass index
  • GPS tracking
  • Host
  • Movement ecology
  • Parasite
  • Parasite interaction
  • Reptile
  • Sleepy Lizard
  • Spatial behaviour
  • Tiliqua rugosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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