The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.
Authors: Marta Biaggini & Claudia Corti
Abstract: Agriculture intensification is among one of the major threats affecting terrestrial reptiles worldwide. There is however a lack of information available on the ecology of these vertebrates in agricultural landscapes. Basic information like the pattern of occurrence in cultivated fields is key to assess the probability of an animal being affected by threats driven by agricultural managing. Focussing on the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus), we performed a field study to assess in detail its distribution and abundance in two cultivations, vineyards and cereal fields. Lizard distribution and abundance significantly varied among land uses, regardless of the arthropod fauna composition and diversity (analysed in the same fields), and the management activities. In the cereal fields, lizards were present exclusively along the field margins while in the vineyards
they also occurred in the inner portions of the cultivated areas, even if they were more abundant next to the borders. The widespread presence of lizards in the vineyards suggest that P. siculus can likely adapt to such cultivated areas. This partly lowers the effect of habitat loss due to vineyard planting but exposes animals to the risks related to management activities, including mechanical practices and chemical application. In contrast, the presence of sowed lands, as extremely simplified habitats, results primarily in a definitive loss of habitat for lizards that are unable to settle within them, while the exposure to threats driven by management is less direct than in vineyards.
Keywords: agriculture, Podarcis, reptiles, wildlife protection