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Selection of key features of vegetation and escape behavior in the Sand Dune Lizard (Liolaemus multimaculatus)

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Vegetation structure and cover are two of the main factors which determine microhabitat preferences in lizards. The Sand Dune Lizard (Liolaemus multimaculatus) is a vulnerable and endemic species of the pampean coastal habitats from Argentina. We hypothesized that: a) Sand Dune Lizard prefer to perch in microhabitats that offer a good balance between visibility and refuge, and; b) lizards prefer microhabitats in which plant types allow them to resort to sand burying behavior. We recorded data of microhabitat (bunch-grasses sizes and plant types) used by lizards (males, females and juveniles) in a population at the Mar Chiquita Provincial Nature Reserve. We applied the use-availability design to assess preferences. We evaluated differences between sex and relation between sizes of lizards. Lizards preferred bunch-grasses of intermediate size. Habitats conformed only by herbaceous species were the most preferred by lizards. We did not find differences between males and females, neither relations between size of lizards and the tested variables. Adult lizards of both sexes use bunch-grasses more frequently than juvenile individuals. The preferences for herbaceous species could be related to the sand-bury behavior that lizards use to escape from predators. More studies are necessary in order to assess the processes related with habitat preferences

Affiliations: 1: Sección Herpetología, Departamento de Vertebrados, Museo de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque s/n, La Plata (1900), Buenos Aires, Argentina


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