Population Variation in Dune-Dwelling Lizards in Response to Patch Size, Patch Quality, and Oil and Gas Development
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We studied relationships between quality and quantity of habitat and conversion of land to caliche roads and well pads associated with oil and gas development. We asked how these factors affected abundance of dune-dwelling lizards, with emphasis on a habitat specialist, the dunes sagebrush lizard Sceloporus arenicolus. Open depressions in dune complexes are a critical landscape feature for S. arenicolus, and extensively used by all species; thus, size and total area of open depressions in a study site were our measures of habitat quality and quantity. There were significant differences in habitat quality among sites, and habitat quality and quantity were correlated significantly. Abundances of all lizards, including S. arenicolus, varied significantly among sites and this variation could be explained by amount of habitat at a given site. Relationships between oil and gas development, quantity and quality of habitat, and abundances of lizards likely occur on different spatial scales constraining our ability to detect direct effects of oil and gas development alone. Our research is the first to investigate effects of oil and gas development on an assemblage of dune-dwelling lizards.
author list (cited authors)
Smolensky, N. L., & Fitzgerald, L. A.