Because animals are vulnerable to predators while sleeping, avoiding predation may be one of the most important factors influencing the selection of sleeping sites by animals. However, a given sleeping site is not always safe from predators consistently because species and foraging tactics often differ between diurnal and nocturnal predators. Thus, animals may have to leave their sleeping sites in response to the changes in predator composition from night to day. We investigated the pattern of space use by a diurnal gecko, Lygodactylus tolampyae, during day and night in a dry forest of Ampijoroa, northwestern Madagascar, where a variety of predators are present. We also video-recorded the behavior of geckos that departed sleeping sites in the early morning. Most geckos perched on tree trunks in the daytime, and slept on the tips of thin branches and leaves at night. Geckos began leaving sleeping sites before dawn when it was still too dark for diurnal predatory birds to forage. When leaving, geckos moved very slowly and intermittently toward tree trunks. We surmise that predator avoidance is the most likely explanation for the sleeping site selection by L. tolampyae and that the behavior employed by the gecko in leaving its sleeping sites minimizes the risk of both nocturnal and diurnal predation.
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Vol. 31 • No. 2