We think of anoles as visually oriented animals, but they can hear as well. Very little work has investigated their hearing ability, much less how they respond to aural phenomena. In a recent study, Huang et al. reported that anoles alter their behavior depending on what they hear. In particular, they show that A. cristatellus in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, appear to display less after hearing the call of a predatory bird, a kestrel, compared to their response to a non-threatening granivore, the bananaquit. They also report that simulated ecotourists playing the sound of a camera shutter clicking lead to a decrease in display rate compared to controls or the faux tourists taking flash photos. They interpret this finding as indicating that the sound of SLR cameras clicking, but not their flashes, are interpreted as a threat by the anoles. These results are interesting, but cry out for more thorough study, especially given that data were collected by approaching lizards, watching them for 1-2 minutes, presenting the stimulus, and then recording behavior for another minute and comparing rates of behavior from before and after. Moreover, differences in behavior among treatments were only detected in the final 15 seconds of the post-stimulus observation period, where no differences were detected in the first 45 seconds. Bottom line: it would be very interesting to investigate the role of hearing in anole behavior, and this study provides an inkling that there may be interesting work to be done.
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