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Adding burrows to enhance a population of the endangered pygmy blue tongue lizard, Tiliqua adelaidensis.
Souter, Nicholas*,1, Bull, C. Michael1, Hutchinson, Mark2, 1 Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia2 South Australian Museum, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
ABSTRACT- The endangered pygmy blue tongue lizard, Tiliqua adelaidensis, occupies spider burrows in a population near Burra, South Australia. In each of 12 20 x 20 m plots at that population, we added 36 artificial burrows, providing about a ten fold increase in suitable burrows for lizards. Over three surveys during the spring and summer of 2001 – 02 there were significant increases in lizard numbers in the experimental plots relative to the controls, both for adult lizards and for new recruits after clutches were produced. This local increase in population density may be due to lizards locating suitable burrows more easily where burrow numbers were supplemented. The increased availability of high quality burrows may also reduce mortality among lizards searching for suitable burrows. Additional burrows also led to an increase in local density of a burrow – dwelling centipede that is a potential predator of lizards, but there was no evidence of predation, and any negative predation impact was outweighed by the beneficial effect of providing more burrows.
Key words: artificial burrows, endangered reptile, population density