Pasture height and crop direction influence reptile movement in an agricultural matrix

Kay, Geoffrey M., Driscoll, Don A., Lindenmayer, David B., Pulsford, Stephanie A. and Mortelliti, Alessio 2016, Pasture height and crop direction influence reptile movement in an agricultural matrix, Agriculture, ecosystems and environment, vol. 235, pp. 164-171, doi: 10.1016/j.agee.2016.10.019.

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Title Pasture height and crop direction influence reptile movement in an agricultural matrix
Author(s) Kay, Geoffrey M.
Driscoll, Don A.ORCID iD for Driscoll, Don A.
Lindenmayer, David B.
Pulsford, Stephanie A.
Mortelliti, Alessio
Journal name Agriculture, ecosystems and environment
Volume number 235
Start page 164
End page 171
Total pages 8
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2016-11-01
ISSN 0167-8809
Keyword(s) navigation
matrix permeability
Summary Tackling the global threat of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity requires knowledge of how species move within agricultural landscapes. However, the specific mechanisms influencing dispersal within such landscapes remain poorly understood. The objective of our study was to assess how matrix type (improved pasture, native pasture or crop) and structure (grass height) influence fine-scale reptile movement, as well as influences of crop sowing direction and setting-sun position. In an agricultural region of south-eastern Australia, we first released 20 individuals of an arboreal gecko (Christinus marmoratus) at set distances from trees to determine the distance at which they could perceive their tree habitat (perceptual range). We then translocated 36 individuals into six matrix environments within their perceptual range of isolated trees to examine how gecko movement was modified by the type and structure of the matrix. We also recorded crop sowing direction and setting-sun position and examined all recorded tracks using angular statistics. We found that geckos exhibited a perceptual range of 40–80m. Short matrix environments promoted direct movements towards trees, irrespective of matrix type. Furthermore, movements were significantly affected by crop sowing direction with individuals following the planted lines. Our study has three significant implications: (i) restoring mature tree spacing to 80 m apart will assist gecko movements, (ii) targeted management for low pasture height, such as by maintaining directional narrow strips of low vegetation among taller pastures, might assist movement and facilitate increased connectivity, (iii) directional sowing of crops between habitat patches presents a simple but potentially effective tool for reconnecting fragmented landscapes.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.agee.2016.10.019
Field of Research 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Elsevier
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