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The herpetofaunal community of a Banksia woodland near Perth, Western Australia

Davidge, Christine (1979) The herpetofaunal community of a Banksia woodland near Perth, Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

The herpetofaunal community of undisturbed, mature Banksia woodland on deep sand was assessed by pitfall trapping over 22 months. The community comprised 13 lizard species (Agamidae, Scincidae, Pygopodidae), four snakes (Elapidae, Typhlopidae) and four frogs (Leptodactylidae). All frogs and some lizards were uniformly distributed; the uneven distribution of other lizards was probably a response to small-scale environmental variation. Species did not have home-ranges, probably owing to the need for rapid dispersal to exploit the flush of invertebrates available shortly after fire.

The reptiles mated in spring (September-November) and laid eggs in early summer. Percentage frequency distributions of snout-vent lengths for six of the most common lizard species suggest that they did not breed until their second year. Two of the frog species, requiring water for tadpole development, restricted their breeding to winter and had to migrate from the study area where no surface water was available. One frog species, lacking an aquatic stage, laid eggs during the summer.

The greatest numbers and diversity of reptiles were trapped in October and very few were caught in winter (June-August). Adult lizards, particularly of the two largest species, were only rarely trapped in late summer and autumn, when juveniles were abundant. Frogs were trapped throughout the year, although few adults of the two water-breeding species were caught during autumn and winter.

All except one species (a termite specialist) were opportunistic feeders, taking a wide range of prey items including vertebrates, plant material and sixteen categories of invertebrates.

The structure of the community is discussed and a brief comparison is made with herpetofaunas elsewhere.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Wooller, Ron
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/52073
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