Document Detail

Territorial behavior in Taiwanese kukrisnakes (Oligodon formosanus).
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21502515     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The independent evolutionary origin of a complex trait, within a lineage otherwise lacking it, provides a powerful opportunity to test hypotheses on selective forces. Territorial defense of an area containing resources (such as food or shelter) is widespread in lizards but not snakes. Our studies on an insular population of Taiwanese kukrisnakes (Oligodon formosanus) show that females of this species actively defend sea turtle nests by repelling conspecifics for long periods (weeks) until the turtle eggs hatch or are consumed. A clutch of turtle eggs comprises a large, long-lasting food resource, unlike the prey types exploited by other types of snakes. Snakes of this species have formidable weaponry (massively enlarged teeth that are used for slitting eggshells), and when threatened, these snakes wave their tails toward the aggressor (an apparent case of head-tail mimicry). Bites to the tail during intraspecific combat bouts thus can have high fitness costs for males (because the hemipenes are housed in the tail). In combination, unusual features of the species (ability to inflict severe damage to male conspecifics) and the local environment (a persistent prey resource, large relative to the snakes consuming it) render resource defense both feasible and advantageous for female kukrisnakes. The (apparently unique) evolution of territorial behavior in this snake species thus provides strong support for the hypothesis that resource defensibility is critical to the evolution of territoriality.
Wen-San Huang; Harry W Greene; Tien-Jye Chang; Richard Shine
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2011-04-18
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  108     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2011 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-05-04     Completed Date:  2011-07-15     Revised Date:  2013-06-30    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  7455-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Zoology, National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung 404, Taiwan.
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MeSH Terms
Agonistic Behavior / physiology
Behavior, Animal / physiology*
Biological Evolution*
Colubridae / physiology*
Selection, Genetic*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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