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Optimising the design of artificial refuges for the Australian skink, Egernia stokesii

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Western subspecies of the Australian skink Egernia stokesii are considered endangered and translocation to unoccupied areas of suitable habitat has been proposed as a conservation strategy. We investigated the internal structure of artificial refuges that might induce translocated lizards to remain at the site of release. In a laboratory environment, individual lizards were offered choices of alternative structures as refuges. They preferred deeper and narrower refuge structures, with a single entrance rather than two entrances. They showed a slight tendency to avoid PVC structures when plywood or brick paving alternatives were available. Soft sand or hard brick substrate were equally accepted. The results suggest that the use of brick pavers may be a practical management strategy to provide extra refuges for the lizards, but further trials are needed with a greater range of temperatures that are representative of field conditions.

Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide South Australia, Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense, Widyasatwaloka Building, Jalan Raya Bogor km 46, Cibinong 16911, Indonesia; 2: School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide South Australia;, Email: michael.bull@flinders.edu.au

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