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Understanding the relationship between body temperature and activity patterns in the giant Solomon Island skink, Corucia zebrata, as a contribution to the effectiveness of captive breeding programmes

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image of Applied Herpetology

The behaviour and body temperatures of the Giant Solomon Islands skink, Corucia zebrata, have been observed in a semi-naturalistic enclosure. Corucia zebrata is a non-basker that thermoregulates by selecting microhabitats where operative temperatures enable body temperatures of around 30°C to be maintained. Body temperatures were significantly higher during sunny weather, but there was no significant difference in body temperature variance. Body temperatures were significantly lower than operative temperatures in open locations or dappled sunlight, but higher than operative temperatures in shaded locations. Coefficients of determination (r2) showed that lizard body temperatures had less association with operative temperatures during sunny weather. The frequency of activity was greater in sunny weather, but the distances travelled during locomotory activity were not significantly different between weather conditions. The lizards were observed less frequently at the upper levels of the canopy during sunny weather. Enclosure design for captive animals should reflect both thermal and structural diversity to enable target body temperatures and appropriate levels of activity to be achieved. Captive breeding programmes may be the only means left for conserving C. zebrata, and information on the relationship between activity and thermal biology is crucial for effective captive breeding programmes.


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