Does vegetation cover affect the rate of capture of ground-active lizards in pitfall traps?

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    Pitfall traps are commonly used to capture terrestrial vertebrates, but it is not known whether differences in vegetation structure affect the efficiency of these traps. Studies that investigate the effects of fire, grazing or vegetation rehabilitation on faunal populations usually compare sites that differ in vegetation structure and the validity of using pitfall traps to sample populations under these circumstances is open to question. This study tests whether vegetation structure affects the rate at which lizards are captured in pitfall traps by cutting ground vegetation in a controlled experiment conducted in field enclosures. The study was undertaken in an area of mulga (Acacia aneura) shrubland in central Australia. Ground cover, consisting of grasses and forbs, was reduced from ?27% to 10% in treatment enclosures. These levels of cover correspond broadly to the range of ground covers encountered in this habitat, including areas with high and low levels of grazing. No difference was detected in the rate at which lizards were captured in enclosures where grass was cut compared with the control enclosures or rates of capture before grass was cut. These results indicate that pitfall trapping is a valid technique for comparing lizard populations in arid mulga shrublands within the range of vegetation covers used in this study, including areas that are subject to different levels of grazing. � CSIRO 2007.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)359-365
    Number of pages7
    JournalWildlife Research
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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