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Tail regeneration alters the digestive performance of lizards

Citation

Sagonas, Kostas et al. (2021), Tail regeneration alters the digestive performance of lizards, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f7m0cfxv9

Abstract

Tissue regeneration is a fundamental evolutionary adaptation, which is well known in lizards that can regenerate their entire tail. However, numerous parameters of this process remain poorly understood. Lizard tail serves many functions. Thus, tail autotomy comes with many disadvantages and the need for quick regeneration is imperative. To provide the required energy and materials for caudal tissue building, lizards are expected to undergo a number of physiological and biochemical adjustments. Previous research showed that tail regeneration induces changes in the digestive process. Here, we investigated if and how tail regeneration affects the digestive performance in five wall lizard species deriving from mainland and island sites and questioned whether the association of tail regeneration and digestion is affected by species relationships or environmental features, including predation pressure. We expected that lizards from high predation environments would regenerate their tail faster and modify accordingly their digestive efficiency, prioritizing the digestion of proteins; the main building blocks for tissue repair. Second, we anticipated that the general food shortage on islands would inhibit the process. Our findings showed that all species shifted their digestive efficiency, as predicted. Elongation rate was higher in sites with stronger predation regime and this was also applied to the rate with which protein digestion raised. Gut passage time increases during regeneration so as to improve the nutrient absorbance, but among the islanders the pace was more intense. The deviations between species should be attributed to the different ecological conditions prevailing on islands rather than to their phylogenetic relationships.