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Spatial ecology and habitat use of bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in urban and peri-urban habitats across Perth

Cole, Gemma Marie (2021) Spatial ecology and habitat use of bobtail lizards (Tiliqua rugosa) in urban and peri-urban habitats across Perth. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Bobtail lizards, Tiliqua rugosa, have been studied extensively in South Australia, with the majority of studies focusing on the population near Mt Mary. There is a substantial lack of literature from other localities, including Perth, Western Australia, as well as on the impact urbanization is having on this species. This study aimed to gain an insight on the spatial ecology and habitat use of bobtails local to the Perth region. Lizards held small home ranges (mean 1.4ha) that did not differ between urban and peri-urban locations. There was no significant correlation between home range size and remnant bushland patch size nor were there any associations between home range and lizard morphometrics. Home range did overlap between individuals inhabiting the same reserve. Several lizards were preferentially selecting microhabitat composition at locations where they were observed inactive and using these habitat as a refuge. However there was not one particular variable that was responsible for this significant difference but cover at several levels; namely leaf litter, canopy, low shrub, and grass trees were important. This represents their flexibility in utilizing a range of different microhabitat structures, both for refuge and when active. The bobtail lizards were recorded reaching their optimum body temperature between 12pm to 3pm for most of the year regardless of the season. Flexibility in microhabitat use as well as their ability to maintain small home ranges while rarely moving beyond the bushland patch boundary is likely why they are adapted to urban living. Due to their flexibility and ability to maintain their home range within small reserves it is important to ensure a variety of vegetation and habitat structures are available for the lizards to seek shelter under. Given that the lizards were rarely moving outside of their reserve boundaries, in order to prevent them crossing roads and potentially getting struck by cars, leaving a border around the edge of the reserve with no vegetation to encourage them to stay with the sheltered reserve.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Bryant, Kate
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