Fixed prey cue preferences among Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri) raised on different long-term diets

Matthew L. Holding, Edward H. Kern, Robert D. Denton, H. Lisle Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chemoreception is often crucial to the interaction between predators and their prey. Investigating the mechanisms controlling predator chemical preference gives insight into how selection molds traits directly involved in ecological interactions between species. In snakes, prey cue preferences are influenced by both direct genetic control and experience-based plasticity. We assessed prey preference in a group of Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnakes that had eaten only mice or lizards over a 5 year period to test whether genetics or plasticity primarily determine the preference phenotype. Our results provide evidence for genetic determination of preference for lizard chemical cues in pigmy rattlesnakes. Snakes preferred the scent of lizards, regardless of their initial diet, and the response to mouse scent did not differ from the water-only control. We discuss these findings in light of previous studies that manipulated snake diets over shorter timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Pigmy rattlesnake
  • Plasticity
  • Prey preference
  • Sistrurus miliarius
  • Tongue-flick
  • Vomeronasal organ

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