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Tree selection by the broad-headed skink, Eumeces laticeps: size, holes, and cover

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Broad-headed skinks (Eumeces laticeps) are semiarboreallizards that are strongly associated with live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). Examination of the frequencies with which lizards occupied the largest of four nearest-neighbor trees and those having holes revealed a strong preference for large trees having holes. The presence of holes large enough for entry was a more important factor than tree size per se, as indicated by consistent occupation of smaller trees having holes when the largest of the four nearest neighbors lacked holes, although a significant preference for large size was demonstrated by the significantly greater than chance occupation of the largest of four nearest neighbor trees among those having holes. Large adults occupied significantly larger trees than did smaller adults, suggesting that larger individuals aggressively exclude smaller ones from preferred trees. Pairs consisting of an adult female and the male guarding her preferred trees surrounded by dense bushes, presumably because bushes limit detection and attack by predators and possibly because they harbor prey. Broad-headed skinks thus prefer large live oaks having holes and a fringe of dense cover.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805, USA


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