Many of New Zealand’s 104 lizard taxa are restricted to the country’s main islands where they are vulnerable to a range of threats. Information on population trends and basic ecological data are lacking for most species, hampering conservation efforts. We monitored a population of scree skinks (Oligosoma waimatense; conservation status: Nationally Vulnerable) in an alluvial stream bed in O Tu Wharekai Wetland in the mid-Canterbury high country over 10 years (2008−2018) to understand aspects of the population’s ecology, and to clarify potential threats and options for management.
The striped skink (Oligosoma striatum) is a poorly known New Zealand endemic species rarely seen in the wild despite ongoing efforts to locate specimens. It is uncertain whether its threatened status is due to low numbers, or to unusual habitat use and activity patterns that make it difficult to detect. Anecdotal reports indicate the species may be partly arboreal. We carried out captive-based behavioural comparisons between striped skinks and the common terrestrial brown skink (Oligosoma zelandicum).
Tiritiri Matangi Island is one of the oldest community-driven island restoration projects in New Zealand. While great effort has been directed towards recovery of vegetation and avian communities since the 1980s, restoration of the island’s reptile fauna has not been initiated until early 2000s. Tiritiri Matangi supports only three remnant reptile species, which is considerably low given the island’s size and geographic location. In recognition of this and the importance of reptiles in ecosystem function, translocations of several reptile species have been undertaken.
Two conservation tools have been developed over the last 10–15 years for species on the New Zealand mainland that are vulnerable to introduced mammalian predators: landscape-scale predator trapping networks, and eradication of predators within mammal-proof exclosures. We tested whether these tools would allow population growth of critically endangered grand skinks (Oligosoma grande) and Otago skinks (O. otagense) over three years.
The stomach contents of 158 hedgehogs captured at Macraes Flat, Otago, New Zealand, over two summers in 2000 and 2001 were examined for the occurrence of lizards. The remains of at least 43 skinks (both Oligosoma nigriplantare polychroma and O. maccanni) and one gecko (Hoplodactylus sp.) were found. Twenty-one percent (n = 33; 8 males and 25 females) of the examined hedgehogs had fed on skinks. Female hedgehogs ate significantly more skinks than did males.