Fragmentation alters home range and movements of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus)

Canadian Journal of Zoology, e-First Articles. Habitat fragmentation is a major driver of biodiversity loss and among reptiles has been attributed as a cause of species decline. The negative effect of habitat fragmentation has also been shown to be worse for species that are habitat specialists. The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus Degenhardt and Jones, 1972) is a species that specializes on the shinnery oak (Quercus havardii Rydb.) sand-dune landform of the Mescalero –Monahans Sandhills ecosystem in western Texas and eastern New Mexico, USA. This landform has been fragmented by roads and well pads used for the extraction of oil and gas resources. The effects of fragmentation on the home range and movements of this species can lead to the effective isolation of populations and increased risk of localized extirpations. We showed that home-range size was larger in an unfragmented area and that the mean distance of movements was greater. We also observed that roads in the fragmented areas restricted movements of S. arenicolus. We concluded that roads can be barriers to movements even though only narrow strips of habitat are altered.
Source: Canadian Journal of Zoology - Category: Zoology Authors: Source Type: research

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