Thermal Ecology of the Dune Sagebrush Lizard, Sceloporus arenicolus
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Sceloporus arenicolus is a habitat specialist that depends on shinnery oak sand dune blowouts. Populations of S. arenicolus (Dune Sagebrush Lizard) have decreased in areas fragmented from roads built during oil development in the Permian Basin. The ability of these habitat specialists to survive depends, in part, on thermally favorable microclimates in dune blowouts. Activity of S. arenicolus is restricted by temperature during periods of the day in which there are no available microhabitats with preferable temperatures. We hypothesized that lizard activity may be more constrained in degraded areas, if the thermal environment becomes less favorable for activity. By comparing activity restriction times, we determined that while there is little difference between fragmented and unfragmented habitats overall, there are differences in the microhabitats. This study shows that habitat fragmentation by road development in the dune systems differentially affects microhabitats and homogenizes the landscape, and is possibly one of the mechanisms driving population declines in those sites.
Jacobson, Connor Andres (2016). Thermal Ecology of the Dune Sagebrush Lizard, Sceloporus arenicolus. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from