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.
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”).
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.
Nest characteristics and nest-site choice determine fitness outcomes for reptile embryos and resulting hatchlings. Little is known about the nesting of Oligosoma suteri, New Zealand’s only egg-laying lizard. We investigated the physical and thermal environment of nests and available microhabitats, including nest-like sites, with the aim of applying this information to future search efforts and translocation plans. Nests of O.
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.
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 distribution and abundance of lizards relative to habitat structure were studied at Pukerua Bay, Wellington between December 1982 and March 1988 in order to identify options for management of the habitat of the five species of lizards present. One species, Whitaker's skink (Cyclodina whitakeri), is a threatened species with only one known mainland population. Pitfall traps were set for 23 667 trap-days and yielded 2897 lizard captures. Highest capture rate was for common skinks (Oligosoma nigriplantare polychroma) and lowest rate was for C. whitakeri.
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.