Inter-population and seasonal changes in food habits of the Moroccan Spiny-tailed lizard along an aridity gradient

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Food habits of the Moroccan Spiny-tailed lizard, Uromastyx nigriventris, from three localities along an aridity gradient from north-east (Mediterranean) to southwest (Atlantic pre-Saharan) of the Atlas range, Morocco, were investigated in spring and autumn 2015 using fecal microhistological analysis. The obtained results showed that these lizards are predominantly herbivorous feeding on 4 to 13 different plant species depending on locality and season, but some insects, namely coleopterans and ants (Formicidae) (up to 6%) are also consumed. They heavily ingested annual and perennial herbaceous plants through a single season. There were significant differences among seasons and localities in terms of species richness and Shannon-Wiener diversity indexes. These indexes increased significantly, respectively for the spring and autumnal diets, and correlatively with the species richness in the habitat along the aridity gradient. The Stress-Gradient Hypothesis could explain this increase. According to Pianka’s niche overlap index (Ojk), dietary overlap was low between Saka (the least arid locality) and Skoura (the intermediate locality) in spring. Conversely, there was a substantial overlap in the diets in autumn with a more pronounced similarity between Saka and Skoura. A review of published information on food habits among Spiny-tailed lizard species and populations was established.

Inter-population and seasonal changes in food habits of the Moroccan Spiny-tailed lizard along an aridity gradient

in Amphibia-Reptilia



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    Map showing the geographic location of the three study sites along a northeast-to-southwest aridity gradient in Morocco. Each locality is indicated by a square.

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    Distribution (% of identified fragments) of plant species consumed by the Moroccan Spiny-tailed lizard, Uromastyxc nigriventris, from three geographic localities (Saka, Skoura and Fask) along a latitudinal (north to south) gradient in Morocco. OF%: occurrence frequency (in %); N%: Numerical frequency, percentage of fragment number per eaten plant species (Mean ± standard deviation, in %). (n= number of fecal pellets examined).

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    Univariate measures Shannon’s (H) indexes and Evenness (E) of the diet diversity (mean ± SD) in the Moroccan Spiny-tailed-lizard, Uromastyx nigriventris, from three different localities in Morocco and in two seasons (spring and autumn).

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    Univariate measure (Pianka’s (Ojk) index) of diet overlap between the three studied localities in spring and autumn, in the Moroccan Spiny-tailed lizard, Uromastyx nigriventris.

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    Diet composition diversity in adult Spiny-tailed lizards of the genera Uromastyx (from North Africa, Middle-east and Arabian Peninsula) and Saara (from India).

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