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Maximum Body Size among Insular Komodo Dragon Populations Covaries with Large Prey Density

Tim S. Jessop, Thomas Madsen, Joanna Sumner, Heru Rudiharto, John A. Phillips, Claudio Ciofi and Tim Benton
Oikos
Vol. 112, No. 2 (Feb., 2006), pp. 422-429
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3548680
Page Count: 8
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Maximum Body Size among Insular Komodo Dragon Populations Covaries with Large Prey Density
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Abstract

This study documents variation in maximum body size of Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) among the four extant island populations in Komodo National Park and compares an indirect measure of deer density, the major prey item for large dragons, to differences in maximum body size among islands. The largest 15% of dragons from the large islands of Komodo and Rinca were significantly longer and heavier than the largest 15% of dragons on the small islands of Gili Motang and Nusa Kode. There was a 33% difference in snout vent length (SVL) between dragons found on Komodo and those found on Gili Motang, with mass varying by more than four-fold. Density of deer pellet groups between islands ranged from 5.86±0.75 groups per transect on Gili Motang to 20.73±1.02 groups per transect on Komodo Island. Maximal dragon SVL and mass was highly positively correlated with this index of deer density. Low prey density on the two small islands could constrain body size via energetic constraints. At present we can not deduce if insular body size variation has arisen through genotypic or phenotypic mechanisms.

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