MONITORING PYGMY SHORT-HORNED LIZARDS (PHRYNOSOMA DOUGLASII) IN NORTHWESTERN NEVADA
|Jackson L Tenney; University of Nevada, Reno; firstname.lastname@example.org; Kevin T Shoemaker, Danielle C Miles|
The Pygmy Short-horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglasii) is unique among horned lizards for its small size and comparatively diverse diet. Throughout their range, Pygmy Short-horned lizards are threatened by habitat loss as sagebrush habitats transition to monocultures of invasive annual grasses such as cheatgrass. In Nevada (their southernmost range), the Pygmy Short-horned lizard is considered a sensitive species, however there have not been dedicated survey efforts since 2009. This year, we initiated a new 2-year monitoring program to reassess their conservation status and to better understand their current distribution and threats. Here, we present our methodologies and findings from the first year of monitoring. We started by revisiting the ~30 locations where Pygmy Short-horned lizards have previously been found in Nevada. At each site we conducted walking transects and 30-minute timed surveys. Additionally, we collected drone imagery and ant specimens from sites in order to relate presence and abundance of Pygmy Short-horned lizards with other habitat variables such as vegetation cover and prey availability. Overall, our project will provide the necessary data for robust analysis of the key environmental drivers of Pygmy Short-horned lizard presence, allowing us to provide guidance for the long-term conservation of their populations in Nevada.