Microhabitat Use in Sand Lizard - Lacerta agilis chersonensis(Squamata, Lacertidae) as an Indicator for Planning of Different Management Practices for Pastures

1 Sofia University ”St. Kliment Ohridski”, BG - 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
2 Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, National Museum of Natural History, BG - 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
3 University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany


GROZDANOV, A. P., N. D. TZАNKOV, C. AND RES and S. G. POPOVA, 2014. Microhabitat use in S and lizard - Lacerta agilis chersonensis (Squamata, Lacertidae) as an indicator for planning of different management practices for pastures. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 20: 1386-1391


Microhabitat selection is an important tool for spatial segregation among sexes and age classes in lizards. This study explored the microhabitat use in both sexes of Lacerta agilis chersonensis at different ontogenetic stages in order to test the generalist/specialist hypothesis already stated to be valid for this species. The study area situated in the Sofia plain, Western Bulgaria includes five isolated polygons. Both sexes were separated into groups according to age class. A total of 68 specimens were studied (18 adult and 16 juvenile females, 20 adult and 14 juvenile males). For every specimen microhabitat characteristics at 100 square meters around the observation point were recorded and classified into the next categories: grass density (4 classes), grass height (3 classes), presence/absence of country roads, trees, shrubs, stones and artificial shelters. Multivariate analyses by means of correspondent analyses well separated the four designated groups. Males were mostly found in the microhabitats with shrubs and tall/dense grasses. Females were affiliated to a microhabitat with lower height and density of grasses than males and commonly used artificial shelters. A clear segregation among sexes at their juvenile stage was also demonstrated. Grass height and density seem to be important parameters for microhabitat selection of the different age-sex classes. The present research confirms the sand lizard as an important indicator species for estimating of pasture habitats quality according to the proved selection of grass with different density and height and other microhabitat elements. The species could be used as indicator of changes in the land use and should be treated as vulnerable from human activities. The presented information could be implemented in planning of different management regimes for the pastures as one of the most important agricultural habitats and at the same time natural environment of many protected or endangered species.

Key words: habitat selection, pastures management, Sand lizard

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