Several aspects of escape behavior are predictable by escape theory based on expected costs due to predation risk and escaping. Although the function of pursuit-deterrent signaling is to dissuade predators from attack, relatively little is known about relationships between specific components of escape and the signaling behavior. I studied effects of the risk factor distance from refuge on flight initiation distance, distance fled, probability of entering refuge, and the distance between predator (an approaching human) and prey when pursuit-deterrent display begins (display distance) in the Cuban curly-tailed lizard (Leiocephalus carinatus). I also investigated whether starting distance (distance between predator and prey when approach begins) affects escape behaviors. As predicted by escape theory, flight initiation distance and distance fled were greater and refuge entry was less probable at greater distance from refuge, indicating that qualitative predictions of escape theory apply to pursuit deterrent signalers. Starting distance did not affect escape behaviors, presumably because it did not affect perceived risk, but might do so at a faster approach speed. Display distance and flight initiation distance were identical in the data set analyzed, but individuals sometimes perform tail displays prior to fleeing. Interspecific variation in the timing of pursuit-deterrent displays is discussed, as are possible reasons for observed differences in the effect of starting distance.
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Vol. 63 • No. 2