Inherent behavioural traits enable a widespread lizard to cope with urban life

S. Walsh, C. T. Goulet, B. B.M. Wong, D. G. Chapple

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The global human population is increasing at a staggering rate, and more than half of that population resides in urban areas. As urbanization spreads across the landscape, animals are often confronted with a vast number of unfamiliar stimuli. Existing evidence from studies of birds and mammals suggests that increased boldness, arising either through behavioural plasticity or an intrinsic risk-taking ability, can provide a fitness advantage in urban environments. What is less clear, is if these same patterns are prevalent in other taxa. Accordingly, we measured the expression of boldness in two contexts, novelty and anti-predatory behaviour, in a successful urban lizard, the delicate skink (Lampropholis delicata). Lizards from genetically related urban and non-urban populations were exposed to a novel object, scent and noise as well as a simulated predator attack. Contrary to much of the current research, we found no behavioural variation between urban and non-urban populations, as all lizards exhibited similarly high levels of risk-taking behaviour in their antipredator response as well as neophobia towards the novel object, scent and noise. Our results suggest that the delicate skink is able to cope with the challenges of urban conditions through its inherent traits. As urbanization becomes more widespread, we need to better understand which animals are able to cope with altered environmental conditions and how that is achieved. This will be critical if we are to fully grasp the impacts of anthropogenic change on faunal communities globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-196
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • boldness
  • Lampropholis delicata
  • neophobia
  • reptile
  • Sydney
  • urbanization

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