Foraging mode affects extinction risk of snakes and lizards, but in different ways

Simon Baeckens, Shai Meiri, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What factors render a species more vulnerable to extinction? In reptiles, foraging mode is a fundamental ecological dimension: some species actively search for immobile prey, whereas others ambush mobile prey. Foraging mode is linked to diet, morphology, movement ecology, and reproductive output, and hence plausibly might affect vulnerability to threatening processes. Our analyses of data on 1543 taxa revealed links between foraging mode and (IUCN) conservation status, but in opposite directions in the two main squamate groups. Ambush-foraging snakes were more threatened and with declining populations than were active searchers, whereas lizards showed the reverse pattern. This divergence may be linked to differing consequences of foraging mode for feeding rates and reproductive frequency in snakes versus lizards. Our findings underscore the need for taxon-specific conservation management, particularly in groups such as reptiles that have been neglected in global conservation prioritization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Letters
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • endangered species
  • life history
  • phylogenetic comparative methods in conservation
  • sit-and-wait foraging
  • threatening processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Foraging mode affects extinction risk of snakes and lizards, but in different ways'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this