New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1996) 20(2): 191- 206

Effects of habitat structure on distribution and abundance of lizards at Pukerua bay, Wellington, New Zealand

Research Article
D. R. Towns 1
G. P. Elliott 2
  1. Science and Research Division, Department of Conservation, Private Bag 68-908, Newton, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. 549 Rocks Road, Nelson, New Zealand

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. Of the five lizard species at Pukerua Bay, C. whitakeri had the narrowest habitat range and was most sensitive to temperature extremes. These features, combined with predation, and habitat disturbance and degradation, have resulted in critically low numbers of C. whitakeri. Assessment of management options to lessen the threats to C. whitakeri concluded that risks from disturbance, predation and fire could best be minimised through a managed revegetation programme.