Foraging behaviour of the endangered Australian skink (Liopholis slateri)

Megan McKinney, Christine Schlesinger, Chris Pavey

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    The foraging behaviour of the endangered Australian skink (Liopholis slateri) was investigated through detailed observation of a subpopulation of lizards during seven months of sampling. Slater’s skinks primarily exhibited ambush predation, darting from burrow entrances to distances of up to 4 m with a success rate of ~70%. The direction of darting was often straight ahead and almost always in an 180° arc in front of the burrow entrance. Juveniles foraged more frequently and further from burrows than adults. Ants were the most common prey item taken and juveniles targeted small ants as prey more often than adults and often moved further to capture these prey. The spread of introduced buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) in central Australia in recent decades is a possible contributing factor to the decline of L. slateri. A wide field of view appears to be critical for the success of the sit-and-wait foraging strategy employed by the skinks and additional research is required to determine whether further encroachment of buffel grass around burrow systems will impede visibility and directly affect foraging behaviour of these skinks.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)477-482
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustralian Journal of Zoology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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