Hot rocks or no hot rocks: Overnight retreat availability and selection by a diurnal lizard

  • Sabo J
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Abstract

I used radio telemetry to determine the effects of substrate size and composition on overnight retreat site selection by western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis). In watersheds of northern California (USA), these lizards occupy two habitat types differing in substrate characteristics: rocky cobble bars found in the dry, active channels of rivers and grassy upland meadows. Rocky substrates, found almost exclusively on cobble bars, provided warmer potential retreat sites than all available retreat sites on meadows during the first 5 h of inactivity. Only cobble and sand substrates provided retreats with temperatures within the preferred daily active range (32-36 degrees C) during the inactive period for these lizards (1900-0900 hours). Females on a cobble bar used rocks as retreats on >90% of nights during the breeding season whereas females on a meadow used wood (>70% of nights) and burrows (>25% of nights). In contrast to females, cobble bar males used rocks significantly less frequently (

Author-supplied keywords

  • Habitat selection
  • Retreat site
  • Riparian
  • Sceloporus occidentalis
  • Thermoregulation

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Authors

  • John L. Sabo

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