Habitat use by chevron skinks (Oligosoma homalonotum) (Sauria: Scincidae) on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
- Department of Conservation, Research, Development and Improvement Unit, P.O. Box 112, Hamilton, New Zealand
- Department of Statistics, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand
- Department of Conservation, Research, Development and Improvement Unit, Private Bag 68908, Auckland, New Zealand
- Department of Conservation, Great Barrier Island Area Office, Port Fitzroy Mail Centre, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
- Present address: Department of Statistics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
- Current address: Environment Waikato, Box 4010, Hamilton East, New Zealand
Habitat use of the endangered chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) was investigated between 1997 and 2002 at three sites on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand. Habitat preferences were determined by pitfall trapping and radio-tracking studies, and a comparison of catchments with and without chevron skinks. Over the course of the research, 88 skinks were encountered. Significantly more skinks were caught in pitfall traps set in stream habitat than in alluvial terrace, boulder bank or ridge habitat. Eight chevron skinks were radio-tracked for periods between three and eight days, and 118 fixes were taken from 55 different retreat sites. When compared with randomly selected sites, chevron skinks were more likely to be found at sites that had crevices, debris dams and trees than those that did not. The further a site was away from the stream edge, the less likely it was to be a chevron skink retreat site. Chevron skinks were more likely to be found in catchments with narrow streams with rocky, as opposed to silty, substrates. We recommend that future management of chevron skinks incorporate sites that contain mature forest and rocky streams. While forest habitats on Great Barrier Island appear to be increasing in area, chevron skinks may still be declining due to the effects of introduced predators.