Record Details

Buttemer, William A;Dawson, William R
Temporal pattern of foraging and microhabitat use by Galapagos marine iguanas, Amblyrhynchus cristatus
Journal Article
Amblyrhynchus cristatus
We observed a colony of marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on Isla Fernandina, Galápagos, Ecuador, while measuring local micrometeorological and tidal conditions. We found size-related differences in foraging mode, with smaller iguanas feeding intertidally during daytime low tides and larger iguanas feeding subtidally. Despite having greater opportunity, subtidal foragers did not time their foraging bouts or exploit their environment in ways that optimized their period at high body temperature. Instead, the foraging schedule of these iguanas served to maximize their rate of rewarming following emergence from the cool sea. Intertidal feeders, by contrast, showed much greater behavioral flexibility in attempting to exploit their thermal environment. We suggest that size-ordered differences in marine iguana thermoregulatory behavior reflect underlying ontogenetic changes in costs and benefits of thermoregulation due to differences in predator pressure, quantity of food and electrolytes taken at each feeding, mode of foraging, and agonistic tendencies.