Does foraging mode affect metabolic responses to feeding? A study of pygopodid lizards

Michael Wall, Michael B. Thompson, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Foraging mode (ambush vs. active) profoundly affects many aspects of organismal biology, including metabolic rates and their relationship with food intake. Previous studies on snakes suggest that ambushers tend to have lower standard metabolic rates (SMR) and higher energetic costs of digestion and assimilation of prey (specific dynamic action, or SDA) than do active foragers. However, phylogenetic considerations may be at least partly responsible for such patterns, as foraging mode is strongly conserved evolutionarily and most SDA studies have focused on species from only two lineages of ambush foragers (pythonid and viperid snakes) and one lineage of active foragers (colubrid snakes). We sought to deconfound the effects of phylogeny and foraging mode, investigating SMR and SDA in two closely related pygopodid lizards, the common scaly-foot Pygopus lepidopodus (active forager) and Burton's legless lizard Lialis burtonis (ambush forager). Consistent with the pattern seen in snakes, L. burtonis exhibits a significantly lower SMR and a higher SDA than does P. lepidopodus. The magnitude of SDA in L. burtonis is comparable to that of some pythons and vipers, providing yet more evidence for the remarkable convergence between this species and ambush-foraging snakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-625
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Zoology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • ecology
  • metabolic rates
  • reptile
  • specific dynamic action


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