Using faecal samples in lizard dietary studies

Valentín Pérez-Mellado, Ana Pérez-Cembranos, Mario Garrido, Luca Luiselli, Claudia Corti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


While the use of faecal pellets is widely accepted as a primary methodological source of data for dietary studies, a recent paper advocated for the use of gut contents. This was due to the fact that faecal samples would give biased results of the diet of arthropod predators, due to a lower representation of soft-bodied prey in faecal pellets. To test this assumption, we compared the spring diet of several populations of two insular lizards from the Balearic Islands (Spain), Podarcis lilfordi and Podarcis pityusensis, using both faecal pellets and gut contents. Our results do not support the supposed bias of dietary analyses based on faecal pellets. Indeed, soft-bodied prey and particularly insect larvae are often equally represented in faecal pellets and gut contents. Alternatively, soft bodied prey are represented in different proportions in gut contents and faecal pellets, but in some cases with higher proportions being observed in the gut contents, and in other cases with higher proportions in faecal samples. We conclude that faecal pellets can be a reliable source of information for dietary studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAmphibia - Reptilia
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Lacertidae
  • Podarcis
  • dietary methods
  • faecal analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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