restricted access New Information on Distribution and Habitat Preferences of the Leopard Skink, Lacertoides pardalis, across the Ultramafic Surfaces of Southern New Caledonia
Abstract

Abstract:

New insights into distribution and habitat preferences of the large scincid lizard Lacertoides pardalis at a local scale were made during the course of a translocation study undertaken on the Kwé Range, in the region of the Plaine des Lacs of southern New Caledonia. Information gathered showed it to be distributed widely in elevation across the range where suitable habitat of out-cropping rock was present, with a preference for rock habitat located within moderately low but dense maquis shrubland with a ground cover of tall sedges. Association with this particular stunted vegetative structure in part likely reflects the extent to which plant matter, primarily fruits of shrubs, constitutes a substantial component of the species’ diet, as confirmed by scat analysis of captured individuals during the study. Lacertoides pardalis is currently recognized as “Vulnerable” under IUCN criteria, a designation assigned by virtue of its extremely limited area of extent and specialized biology. However, we here report a major extension in range, indicating that the species could be more widespread in suitable habitat across the whole of the southern ultramafic region of the island.


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