Title page for ETD etd-06282007-142826

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Roberts, Amy A.
URN etd-06282007-142826
Title Habitat preferences of the eastern fence lizard, Sceloporus undulatus, in southwestern Virginia
Degree Master of Science
Department Biology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Andrews, Robin M. Committee Chair
Haas, Carola A. Committee Member
Stauffer, Dean F. Committee Member
  • GIS
  • AIC
  • fence lizard
  • Sceloporus undulatus
  • habitat
Date of Defense 2007-05-04
Availability unrestricted
Habitat preference of the eastern fence lizard, Sceloporus undulatus, was investigated in southwestern Virginia. Habitat features were measured at 158 lizard-centered plots and at paired random plots. Landscape-level variables, southerly aspect and mixed forest type, distinguished lizard-centered from random sites. Hatchlings were associated with relatively high temperature at perch height (23 °C), relatively high amounts (per 1- m2) of coarse woody debris (15%) and bare ground (15%), and relatively low amount of litter (34%). Adults and juveniles were associated with a relatively high number of rocks (22 per 0.01 hectare) and amount of coarse woody debris (9% per 1- m2). Habitat preferences were modeled with a Geographic Information System (GIS) using landscape-level variables and with logistic regression and Akaike’s Information Criterion using site-level variables. The best-fitting site-level model for adults/juveniles included % CWD. The best-fitting model for hatchlings included % CWD and number of rocks, and the second best-fitting model also included % litter. Landscape (both classes) and site-level models (adult/juveniles only) were tested at 15 GIS-predicted “suitable” study areas and at 15 GIS-predicted “unsuitable” areas. Site-level models for hatchlings were tested with independent data collected at two study areas. Sixteen lizards were found at “suitable” areas and one at an “unsuitable” area; the GIS-based model was a good predictor of lizard presence at the landscape level. The best-fitting site-level models for adults/juveniles and hatchlings were poor predictors of lizard presence while the second best-fitting hatchling model was a good predictor of hatchling presence.
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