Diet of the lizard Liolaemus occipitalis in the coastal sand dunes of southern Brazil (Squamata-Liolaemidae)

Dieta do lagarto Liolaemus occipitalis nas dunas costerias do sul do Brasil (Squamata-Liolaemidae)

L. Verrastro I. Ely About the authors

Knowledge of a species’ diet provides important information on adaptation and the relationship between the organism and its environment. The genus Liolaemus occurs in the southern region of South America and is an excellent model to investigate the adaptive processes of vertebrate ecology in ecosystems of this region of the world. Liolaemus occipitalis is an endangered species that inhabits the coastal sand dunes of southern Brazil. This species is the most abundant vertebrate in this environment, and it presents unique adaptation characteristics to the restinga environment. The present study analyzed this lizard’s diet to verify similarities or differences between this species and other species of the same genus. Specimens were collected monthly from January 1996 to December 1997. The number of items, frequency of occurrence and volume of each prey taxon were determined. Arthropods were identified to the order level, and plant material was identified as flower, fruit, seed and leaves. Variations in the diet of males and females, adults and juveniles and seasons were also analyzed. The data indicate that Liolaemus occipitalis is a generalist, “sit-and-wait” or ambush predator as well as omnivorous, feeding on both arthropods and plant material. Significant ontogenetic differences were verified. Juveniles are more carnivorous, and the intake of plant material increases with size and age. Seasonal differences in diet composition were also observed. In the spring, arthropod and plant materials were more diversified and, therefore, consumed more often.

Liolaemus ; southern Brazil; restinga ; foraging; seasonal variation

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