Population Ecology of the Florida Scrub Lizard in Scrub and Longleaf Pine Habitats

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Florida Scrub is a unique, xeric habitat type found only in central and southern peninsular Florida. This habitat harbors substantial biodiversity and numerous endemics, yet has experienced substantial loss and degradation in the last 150 years. Virtually all of the remaining Florida Scrub exists in a few large public or privately held tracts (e.g. Archbold Biological Station, Avon Park Air Force Range, Ocala National Forest, etc.) The Florida Scrub Lizard (Sceloporus woodi) is a small, rare, endemic lizard under conservation concern. Scrub Lizards are generally common in the Ocala National Forest, yet sizable populations have become increasingly scarce in scrub stands since 2009. In contrast, Scrub Lizard populations in long leaf pine stands have remained healthy in ONF. Here, we examine differences in stand characteristics, population density, and lizard behavior (flight distance, distance to refuge) among populations of longleaf and scrub. We show that population densities differ between scrub and longleaf stands when key management criteria alone are used for site selection. Furthermore, the natural surface roads found throughout the forest are shown to be critical ‘habitats’ that Scrub Lizards use extensively and hence may allow for their persistence across the forest. Yet, we also show that when management criteria are coupled with management history, scrub and longleaf sites do not differ in density. Our results highlight the importance of history, habitat connectivity, and stand management over both time and space. The combination of these variables is crucial for the persistence of this rare species in its namesake habitat, the Florida Scrub.


Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting (SICB)


Portland, OR