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Fear no colors? Observer clothing color influences lizard escape behavior.

Putman, Breanna J. and Drury, Jonathan P. and Blumstein, Daniel T. and Pauly, Gregory B. (2017) 'Fear no colors? Observer clothing color influences lizard escape behavior.', PLoS ONE., 12 (8). e0182146.

Abstract

Animals often view humans as predators, leading to alterations in their behavior. Even nuanced aspects of human activity like clothing color affect animal behavior, but we lack an understanding of when and where such effects will occur. The species confidence hypothesis posits that birds are attracted to colors found on their bodies and repelled by non-body colors. Here, we extend this hypothesis taxonomically and conceptually to test whether this pattern is applicable in a non-avian reptile and to suggest that species should respond less fearfully to their sexually-selected signaling color. Responses to clothing color could also be impacted by habituation to humans, so we examine whether behavior varied between areas with low and high human activity. We quantified the effects of four T-shirt colors on flight initiation distances (FID) and on the ease of capture in western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), and we accounted for detectability against the background environment. We found no differences in lizard behavior between sites. However, lizards tolerated the closest approaches and were most likely to be captured when approached with the T-shirt that resembled their sexually-selected signaling color. Because changes in individual behavior affect fitness, choice of clothing color by people, including tourists, hikers, and researchers, could impact wildlife populations and research outcomes.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182146
Publisher statement:© 2017 Putman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:12 July 2017
Date deposited:21 December 2017
Date of first online publication:09 August 2017
Date first made open access:21 December 2017

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