The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

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pdf 08. Characteristics of the burrows of Slater's skink, Liopholis slateri

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Open Access

pp. 115-121
Authors: Fenner, Aaron L.; Pavey, Chris R. & Bull, C. Michael

Abstract: Slater's skink, Liopholis slateri, is an endangered, burrow dwelling scincid, confined to the desert river floodplains of central Australia. This species has undergone a significant population decline over the past 40 years probably due to a loss of suitable habitat for burrow construction caused by changes in land use, the invasion of exotic weeds and altered fire regimes. In this paper we describe the characteristics of natural burrows and their physical association with other environmental features. Lizards were found to construct relatively complex, multi-entranced (up to 10 entrances) burrow systems in mounds of soil, ranging from 4.5–33 cm in height and 3.12–10.36 m basal circumference, that had formed under shrubs ranging from 0.42–3.22 m in height. We also found that the temperature inside one burrow was substantially lower during the hottest part of the day, and showed substantially less daily temperature variation than experienced outside of the burrow. We found no evidence that lizards had a preferred compass direction for orientating their burrow openings. This study provides baseline data to enable the development of artificial burrow systems for use in future habitat restoration projects, possible translocations and captive breeding programmes.

Keywords: CONSERVATION, EGERNIA REFUGES, LIZARD, ARTIFICIAL BURROWS, ARID ZONE

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