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Niche segregation of sand lizard ( Lacerta agilis) and green lizard ( Lacerta viridis) in an urban semi-natural habitat

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Different types of semi natural habitats has important role in long-term survival and maintenance of reptile species in urban environments. Heterogeneous urban green islands can provide conditions that enable competing species to live together in relatively small areas. However, the key mechanism of coexistence could vary from types of habitats and taxa. We investigated the population structure, the fine scale habitat segregation and diel activity pattern of two lizard species ( Lacerta viridisand L. agilis) coexisting populations in a town cemetery. We hypothesized, that fine scale habitat segregation is a more important factor in coexistence than differences in diel activity pattern, because of the environmental dependent thermoregulation constrain. During the study, 178 L. agilisand 79 L. viridisoccurrences were recorded. The daily activity patterns of both species were very similar, with peaks found in the forenoon and afternoon. Lizards were found to be the most active at 31-32°C. The probability of occurrence of the species was influenced more by the differences in the random selection of parcels rather than the random differences in the survey days. Around the proximate observation point the bush covered areas was significantly higher than average in the parcels. Our results showed that niche segregation based on fine scale habitat patches had a fundamental role in the coexistence of the two lizard species. L. agilispreferred the more open spaces, whereas L. viridispreferred areas with more bushes, but there was no difference in the daily activity pattern of the two species.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Zoology and Ecology, Szent István University, Páter Károly u. 1, H-2103 Gödöllő, Hungary; 2: 2Balaton Limnological Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Klebelsberg Kuno u. 3, H-8237 Tihany, Hungary

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