Population responses of common lizards inside a predator-free dryland sanctuary

Predator-free sanctuaries can assist the conservation of multiple endemic species, but quantitative evidence of these benefits is often lacking, especially for herpetofauna. We measured population responses of three common lizard species (schist geckos, Woodworthia ‘Central Otago’; McCann’s skinks, Oligosoma maccanni; and southern grass skinks, O. aff. polychroma Clade 5) 1 year before and 5 years after mammalian predators were removed inside a mammal-proof fence in a dry grass/shrubland habitat with abundant schist rock in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Use of constructed rock piles by lizards in a grassland habitat in Otago, New Zealand

The main drivers of lizard population declines in Aotearoa New Zealand are habitat loss and introduced predators. Therefore, habitat enhancement could be useful for mitigating declines, but there is little information on how Aotearoa’s lizards respond to these interventions. We examined whether novel habitats created by ten c. 375 m3 constructed rock piles would be used by McCann’s skinks (Oligosoma maccani), southern grass skinks (O. aff. polychroma Clade 5), and kōrero geckos (Woodworthia “Otago/Southland large”).

Effect of pitfall trap design on internal trap temperature and the implications for live-trapped lizards

The capture of animals in live traps poses inherent risks of heat stress and mortality to trapped individuals. Despite a long history of pitfall trap use in New Zealand for monitoring small lizards, the design of traps and their covers often varies; however, the effects that this has on the internal temperature of the traps is unknown. Poor trap design may increase the risk of stress and mortality if internal temperatures exceed thermal limits.

Does evolution in isolation from mammalian predators have behavioural and chemosensory consequences for New Zealand lizards?

Recently introduced mammalian predators have had devastating consequences for biotas of archipelagos that were isolated from mammals over evolutionary time. However, understanding which antipredator mechanisms are lost through relaxed selection, and how they influence the ability of prey to respond to novel predatory threats, is limited. The varying effects on native lizard populations of the relatively recent and patchy history of mammalian introductions to New Zealand’s islands provide an opportunity to examine the consequences of relaxed selection.

Detectability, movements and apparent lack of homing in Hoplodactylus maculatus (Reptilia: Diplodactylidae) following translocation

Translocation is an important tool in the conservation of New Zealand reptiles. Despite this, it is generally not known how Hoplodactylus geckos respond to being translocated, partly because they are difficult to monitor. In this opportunistic study, common geckos (H. maculatus) were captured from a site at Birdlings Flat (South Island, New Zealand) that was destined for destruction, and released in native coastal shrubland km away. Geckos were sampled monthly using pitfall traps and artificial retreats, with only the latter method yielding captures.