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Habitat use by the jacky lizard Amphibolurus muricatus in a highly degraded urban area

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image of Animal Biology

Over time native vegetation remnants in urban areas are typically eroded in size and number due to pressures from urban expansion and consolidation. Such remnants, frequently neglected and invaded by weeds, may constitute the last remaining habitat for some species' populations in urban areas. In the restoration of remnants for biodiversity, weed removal is often a high priority but there is a dearth of information on the role that exotic vegetation plays as habitat for fauna such as small reptiles. We investigated the vegetation type preference of urban remnants at the edge of a Sydney golf course by Amphibolurus muricatus, the native jacky lizard. The three vegetation types present were Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (an Endangered Ecological Community) with sparse groundcover, dense stands of the introduced Eragrostis curvula African love grass, and open fairways of lawn: three structurally different habitats. Captured jacky lizards were spooled and their movements traced by following the thread left as they moved through their home range. Jacky lizards preferred areas that afford them most cover. While they foraged throughout the stands of love grass, they tended to avoid the edge of native vegetation remnants. They also basked on the lawn close to the vegetation where they had recently foraged, or traversed it to enter natural vegetation or grass. We concluded that introduced love grass offered additional habitat because of the relatively dense vegetation cover, and that areas should not be managed with the assumption that invasive weeds are detrimental to native species without appropriate assessment.

Affiliations: 1: School of Natural Science, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith 2751, Australia; 2: School of Natural Science, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith 2751, Australia;, Email:; 3: Flora & Fauna Projects, The Hills Shire Council, P.O. Box 75, Castle Hill, Australia, 1765; 4: School of Natural Science, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith 2751, Australia, Abel Ecology, 11 Chapman Parade, Faulconbridge, Australia, 2776


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