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TDK conference 2008

Study of microhabitat selection of the snake-eyed skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii fitzingeri Mertens, 1952) in Pomáz „Kő-hegyi” population
Takács Eszter - year 1
Institute of Biology, Department of Ecology
Supervisor: Dr. Zoltán Korsós


The snake-eyed skink (Ablepharus kitaibeii fitzingeri Mertens, 1952) is the northernmost representative of the genus and the family Scincidae in Europe. Its main distribution range is in Hungary, with sporadic records in southern Slovakia and northern Serbia. The species is listed in the Bern Convention, Appendix 2, and in the European Union Habitat Directive, Annex IV, as a species in need of strict protection. A. k. fitzingeri is strictly protected in Hungary and is listed in the Hungarian Red Data Book as a potentially endangered taxon.

Because of its small size (SVL=20-60 mm) and hidden lifestyle, individuals and populations are not directly threatened by human activity. However, through continuous habitat changes and ultimate destructions the anthropogen effects indirectly damage the populations.

The species occurs in different habitats with respect to substrate: sandstone, limestone, dolomite, andesite, gabbro, basalt, or even pure sand, and occurs in grassland with a low proportion of bushes and trees, bare soil or rocks.

The goal of this study was to provide some ecological data on the snake-eyed skink, which conservationists can use for the conservation management of this reptile endemism of the Carpathian Basin. Fieldwork was carried out in the Kő Hill, Pomáz, N of Budapest. The population was described as occurring in a new type of habitat: a combination of steppic grassland slope and forest steppe with areas of spontenous afforestation. Seasonal activity pattern shows a minimum in summer. During this season I caught only 3 individuals altough I visited the field regularly.

Microhabitat selection was examined with nine variables describing the stucture of the habitat which can influence the habitat choice of the lizard. The method was to compare the observation-point with random point respect to the nine variables. In the field 16 observation-points were described, and around these points variables were measured and recorded. Paired-random points were used in the statistical analyses. Calculating the averages of the variables, the cover of the low herbaceous vegetation and litter was found as the largest, which means that tha animal prefers microhabitats with closer vegetation. This is in accordance with previous investigations. When comparing our observation and random points, significant difference was found only in the vegetation cover of 5-10 cm height. Plants belonging to this category are characteristic grass species, which serve as preferred hiding places for the lizards, as well as an appropriate substrate for their thermoregulation.

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