Wintry habitat selection of the Zapallaren tree iguana (Liolaemus zapallarensis, Müller & Hellmich, 1933) and its abundance in Changa beach, Coquimbo, northern Chile
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Keywords

behavioral ecology
ecological niche
lizards
resource selection ecología del comportamiento
lagartijas
nicho ecológico
selección de recursos

Abstract

Urban development modifies the habitat of reptiles where we expect, the individuals to select available sites with the quality necessary for their permanence. The aim of this study was to determine the variables that favored the habitat selection and abundance of The Zapallaren Tree Iguana Liolaemus zapallarensis, an endemic species of Chile, during a winter season in Changa beach, Coquimbo, in northern Chile. Between June and September 2017, we made 30 random visits to 18 plots of 900 m2 each. We estimated a resource selection probability function for presence-absence and abundance data using local habitat (e.g. slope, distance from the protection wall to the sea at low tide, interior height of the wall, mean height of the vegetation, rocky surface, and vegetal surface) and climatic variables (temperature, atmospheric pressure, direction and wind speed, solar radiation, and mean cloudiness) as predictors. Vegetation cover was the most important habitat variable explaining the presence of L. zapallarensis. In addition, increase in cloudiness and wind speed decreased the probability of selection. Manly’s selectivity measure varied according to the established home ranges and the availability ratios within them. Finally, increase in cloudiness and wind speed decreased the abundance. Overall, our results show that the characteristics related to habitat and local climate influences the resource selection that favors the survival of reptiles. This work shows that beach sectors in urban contexts under anthropic pressure have important available resources that favor the presence and abundance of reptiles.

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