Predatory lizards perceive plant-derived volatile odorants

Jay K. Goldberg, Genevieve Pintel, Stacey L. Weiss, Emilia Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Many lizards are olfactory foragers and prey upon herbivorous arthropods, yet their responses to common herbivore-associated plant volatiles remain unknown. As such, their role in mediating plant indirect defenses also remains largely obscured. In this paper, we use a cotton-swab odor presentation assay to ask whether lizards respond to two arthropod-associated plant-derived volatile compounds: 2-(E)-hexenal and hexanoic acid. We studied the response of two lizard species, Sceloporus virgatusand Aspidoscelis exsanguis, because they differ substantially in their foraging behavior. We found that the actively foraging A. exsanguisresponded strongly to hexanoic acid, whereas the ambush foraging S. virgatus responded to 2-(E)-hexenal—an herbivore-associated plant volatile involved in indirect defense against herbivores. These findings indicate that S. virgatus may contribute to plant indirect defense and that a species' response to specific odorants is linked with foraging mode. Future studies can elucidate how lizards use various compounds to locate prey and how these responses impact plant-herbivore interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4733-4738
Number of pages6
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • foraging strategies
  • lizards
  • olfaction
  • plant indirect defense
  • tri-trophic interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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