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Data from: Clothing color mediates lizard responses to humans in a tropical forest

Citation

Fondren, Andrea; Swierk, Lindsey; Putman, Breanna (2019), Data from: Clothing color mediates lizard responses to humans in a tropical forest, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.18931zcs3

Abstract

Identifying how ecotourism affects wildlife can lower its environmental impact. Human presence is an inherent component of ecotourism, which can impact animal behavior because animals often perceive humans as predators and, consequently, spend more time on human-directed antipredator behaviors and less on other fitness-relevant activities. We tested whether human clothing color affects water anole (Anolis aquaticus) behavior at a popular ecotourism destination in Costa Rica, testing the hypothesis that animals are more tolerant of humans wearing their sexually selected signaling color. We examined if clothing resembling the primary signaling color (orange) of water anoles increases number of anole sightings and ease of capture. Research teams mimicked an ecotourism group by searching for anoles wearing one of three shirt treatments: orange, green, or blue. We conducted surveys at three different sites: a primary forest, secondary forest, and abandoned pasture. Wearing orange clothing resulted in more sightings and greater capture rates compared to blue or green. A higher proportion of males were captured when wearing orange whereas sex ratios of captured anoles were more equally proportional in the surveys when observers wore green or blue . We also found that capture success was greater when more people were present during a capture attempt. We demonstrate that colors “displayed” by perceived predators (i.e., humans) alter antipredator behaviors in water anoles. Clothing choice could have unintended impacts on wildlife, and wearing colors resembling the sexually selected signaling color might enhance tolerance toward humans.