Microhabitat use of different age groups of snake-eyed skink and Eastern green lizard

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
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  • 1 Department of Zoology and Animal Ecology, Szent István University, 2100 Gödöllő, Páter Károly u. 1., Hungary
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Although Ablepharus kitaibelii and its subspecies are wide-spread, being distributed from the Carpathian Basin through the Balkans to Iraq, their habitat and environmental niche is poorly known. Ablepharus kitaibelii fitzingeri is almost entirely limited to the Carpathian Basin, and is amongst the most strictly protected and least known reptiles of Central and Eastern Europe. The main aim of our study was to determine habitat use preferences of different age groups of A. kitaibelii fitzingeri and Lacerta viridis. The occurrence of green lizard was determined by the abundance of refugia rather than by the naturalness of grasslands. The snake-eyed skink prefers semi-natural grasslands with abundant tussock-forming grass or sedge species, avoiding densely shrubby places. For the first time, we show that woodland mosaics lacking shrubs and temporary grasslands next to forest edges are important for the species. Microhabitat use by snake-eyed skink varies with age group; adults preferring shady edge zones rich in leaf litter and shadier grassland spots provided by woodland mosaics, whereas juveniles were found in natural, more open grasslands far from forest edges and in woodland mosaics with dense shrubby understory. Our results contribute to a better understanding of the ecological needs of A. kitaibelii fitzingeri. Our methodology could be adapted to other species and subspecies of Ablepharus. Based on our results, it is important to reconsider habitat management activities, which should not be limited to shrub control: the main goal should be the development of a diverse habitat structure.

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