INVESTIGATING THE POPULATION ECOLOGY OF BLUNT-NOSED LEOPARD LIZARDS ON THREE CORE PROTECTED SITES IN THE SAN JOAQUIN DESERT
|Erin Tennant; California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife; Erin.Tennant@wildlife.ca.gov; David J. Germano, Reagen M. O'Leary|
The blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila; BNLL) is a relatively large, predatory lizard that once occurred throughout much of the San Joaquin Desert and adjacent valleys and foothills. BNLL currently persists on less than 15% of its historical range, largely due to habitat loss. Despite having endangered status for over 40 years, basic population estimates and demographic data, which are crucial for understanding the status of BNLL throughout their range and gaining traction toward recovery actions, are lacking for several core sites. With federal funding (Section 6) we created three long-term population monitoring sites for BNLL at Lokern Ecological Reserve, Semitropic Ecological Reserve, and Pixley National Wildlife Refuge, and monitored these sites for three years (2015-2017). At each site we established a permanent survey grid, where we captured BNLL, permanently marked, and recorded metrics including sex, length, mass, coloration, and number of eggs palpated in females. Since 2017 we have continued monitoring these sites with a survey frequency adaption to transform the study into a manageable long-term survey effort. We present preliminary data from these long-term monitoring sites, including population structure, density estimates, and survivorship, and we discuss future research directions.