by Greg Mayer
Lizards, as Grace Slick used to say, are the crown of creation. It thus is always a sadness to learn that horrible, predatory birds are eating them. And, what’s more, it turns out that seeds in the lizards’ stomachs wind up in the birds’ stomachs, which then eject the seeds in their pellets; this turns out to be an important form of dispersal for the plants.
These results are in a paper in press in the Journal of Ecology by David Padilla and colleagues in the Canary Islands. The lizards are members of a very interesting genus, Gallotia, which is endemic to the Canary Islands. They are in the family Lacertidae, which will be familiar to British and European readers of WEIT as wall lizards, sand lizards, and the like.
The BBC has covered the story, and has more superb pictures.
Padilla, D.P., A. Gonzalez-Castro and M. Nogales. 2011. Significance and extent of secondary seed dispersal by predatory birds on oceanic islands: the case of the Canary archipelago. Journal of Ecology in press. pdf