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Revealing microhabitat requirements of an endangered specialist lizard with LiDAR

Bradley, H.S., Craig, M.D., Cross, A.T., Tomlinson, S., Bamford, M.J. and Bateman, P.W. (2022) Revealing microhabitat requirements of an endangered specialist lizard with LiDAR. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). Art. 5193.

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A central principle of threatened species management is the requirement for detailed understanding of species habitat requirements. Difficult terrain or cryptic behaviour can, however, make the study of habitat or microhabitat requirements difficult, calling for innovative data collection techniques. We used high-resolution terrestrial LiDAR imaging to develop three-dimensional models of log piles, quantifying the structural characteristics linked with occupancy of an endangered cryptic reptile, the western spiny-tailed skink (Egernia stokesii badia). Inhabited log piles were generally taller with smaller entrance hollows and a wider main log, had more high-hanging branches, fewer low-hanging branches, more mid- and understorey cover, and lower maximum canopy height. Significant characteristics linked with occupancy were longer log piles, an average of three logs, less canopy cover, and the presence of overhanging vegetation, likely relating to colony segregation, thermoregulatory requirements, and foraging opportunities. In addition to optimising translocation site selection, understanding microhabitat specificity of E. s. badia will help inform a range of management objectives, such as targeted monitoring and invasive predator control. There are also diverse opportunities for the application of this technology to a wide variety of future ecological studies and wildlife management initiatives pertaining to a range of cryptic, understudied taxa.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Veterinary Medicine
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
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