Jan 2, 2019

A test of desert shrub facilitation via radiotelemetric monitoring of a diurnal lizard

Ecology and Evolution
Michael WestphalChristopher J Lortie

Abstract

Preservation of desert ecosystems is a worldwide conservation priority. Shrubs can play a key role in the structure of desert communities and can function as foundation species. Understanding desert shrub ecology is therefore an important task in desert conservation. A useful model for the function of shrubs in deserts is ecological facilitation, which explores benefits that shrubs confer on their community. Facilitation has been well developed in the context of shrub-plant interactions but less well studied for plant-animal interactions. We used radiotelemetry to test the hypothesis that a dominant desert shrub facilitates one species of diurnal lizard. We hypothesized that the blunt-nosed leopard lizard Gambelia sila would spend some part of its daily activity cycle associated with California jointfir Ephedra californica, and that lizard association with shrubs would increase during the afternoon peak temperature period. We relocated lizards three times daily for 24 days and scored whether lizards were within 0.5 m of a shrub, which we used as an indicator of shrub association. For each relocation, we also scored lizard association with a set of predefined microhabitat features. We also scored lizard behavior according to a s...Continue Reading

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Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Vertebrates
Home Environment
Site
Monitoring - Action
Structure
Disease Management
Species
Gambelia sila
Habitat

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