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The use of body condition and haematology to detect widespread threatening processes in sleepy lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in two agricultural environments

Smyth, A.K., Smee, E., Godfrey, S.S., Crowther, M. and Phalen, D. (2014) The use of body condition and haematology to detect widespread threatening processes in sleepy lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in two agricultural environments. Royal Society Open Science, 1 (4). Article 140257.

Free to read: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.140257
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Abstract

Agricultural practices, including habitat alteration and application of agricultural chemicals, can impact wildlife resulting in their decline. Determining which of these practices are contributing to declines is essential if the declines are to be reversed. In this study, the health of two geographically separated sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) populations was compared between a rangeland environment and cropping environment using linear body size index (LBSI) and haematology. Animals in the cropping site were smaller, suggesting genetic differences as the result of geographical isolation. The animals in the cropping site had a lower LBSI and many were experiencing a regenerative anaemia. The anaemia was postulated to be the cause of the low LBSI. The anaemia appeared to be the result of haemolysis and was likely to be caused by exposure to agricultural chemicals applied in the cropping site but not the rangeland site. Elevated white blood cell counts in lizards in the rangeland site suggested that they were experiencing an inflammatory disease of possible ecological significance. Together, these results demonstrate the value of combining physical and haematological parameters when studying the impact of agricultural practices on wildlife. They also show that reptiles may be useful as sentinel species for livestock and humans.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing
Copyright: © 2014 The Authors.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/27513
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