Behavioral and Ecological Differences of the Florida Scrub Lizard (Sceloporus woodi) in Scrub and Sandhill Habitat

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Florida Scientist




Sceloporus woodi inhabits scrub habitats in central Florida. In Ocala National Forest, this lizard also inhabits longleaf pine sandhills that differ in vegetative structure and composition, yet little is known about the ecology of S. woodi in sandhills. We describe microhabitat use, behavior, diet, ectoparasite load, and morphology of S. woodi in sandhill habitat and compare these data to reference scrub populations. Microhabitat use was significantly different between habitats. Lizards in sandhills used trees most often, whereas lizards in scrub were found on the ground. Foraging behavior was similar between habitats, yet lizards exhibited less scanning (head movement) in scrub sites. Sandhill lizards had significantly lower body temperatures, consumed fewer prey types, and had lower ectoparasite loads than lizards in scrub. Morphologically, females in sandhill had longer limbs than females in scrub. Differences in ecology between sandhill and scrub habitats are likely related to differences in the vegetation structure, thermal biology, and/or predation rates between the two habitats. This study provides a foundation upon which to study linkages among salient ecological variables within and among populations.