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Larger lizards live longer in the group-living Egernia stokesii

Pearson, S.K., Godfrey, S.S., Bull, C.M. and Gardner, M.G. (2016) Larger lizards live longer in the group-living Egernia stokesii. Australian Journal of Zoology, 64 (3). pp. 182-191.

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Animal space use has implications for gene flow, disease dynamics, mating systems and the evolution of sociality. Given recent attention to sociality in reptiles, lizards are an important group for expanding our understanding of animal space use. Lizard space use is commonly investigated within one population over a short period and limited attention has been given to potential predictors of site fidelity. This study evaluated site fidelity in three populations of group-living Egernia stokesii (gidgee skink) between two field surveys separated by almost a decade. Of 43 recaptured lizards, 28 (65%) occupied their original space, and 15 (36%) of those shared their space with the same other lizard or lizards in both surveys. This confirmed long-term site and social bond fidelity in E. stokesii. We found that larger lizards were more likely to be recaptured. Neither body size, individual genetic heterozygosity, nor the availability of refuges strongly predicted whether lizards were recaptured in the same or a different place. The reasons why some lizards stayed in the same space while others moved are yet to be resolved.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 2016.
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