Seven lizard species and a blind snake: activity, body condition and growth of desert herpetofauna in relation to rainfall

Christine Schlesinger, Keith Christian, Craig James, Stephen Morton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    In the Australian arid zone, primary productivity is highly variable in response to irregular and unpredictable rainfall and this has major flow-on effects for desert fauna. We measured temporal patterns of activity and body condition of eight reptile species, and growth for the three most abundant species, in a dry and a wet year. Activity and body condition of the diurnal lizards Ctenophorus nuchalis and Amphibolurus gilberti (Agamidae) and Ctenotus leonhardii and Ctenotus schomburgkii (Scincidae) varied predictably. In the dry year the onset of warm-season activity was delayed and body condition was low, whereas high levels of activity and body condition were observed in the wet year. Growth rates of C. schomburgkii, C. leonhardii, and C. nuchalis did not differ between the two years. Body condition of the nocturnal lizards Diplodactylus conspicillatus and Rhynchoedura ornata (Gekkonidae) and Lerista labialis (Scincidae) did not differ between years but the nocturnal blind snake Ramphotyphlops centralis (Typhlopidae) had higher condition in the wet year. Nocturnal species were active only in warmer months and this apparently limited their ability to respond to favourable conditions in the wet year. Temporal patterns of activity may be important determinants of how effectively lizards can make use of available resources after rain. � 2010 CSIRO.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)273-283
    Number of pages11
    JournalAustralian Journal of Zoology
    Volume58
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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