Habitat selection by bluetongue lizards (Tiliqua, Scincidae) in tropical Australia: a study using GPS telemetry

Samantha J. Price-Rees, Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Emerging global positioning system (GPS) technologies can clarify movement patterns of free-ranging animals in far more detail than has been possible with previous methods. We conducted long-term (mean, 65 days; maximum, 221 days) GPS radio-tracking of 41 northern bluetongue lizards (Tiliqua scincoides intermedia) and 8 centralian bluetongue lizards (T. multifasciata) at two study sites in northwestern Australia, close to the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Results: Individuals of both species spent long periods within small and distinctive habitat patches, interspersed with longer directional relocations from one patch to the next. Our sampling showed that these patches of core activity differed significantly from the surrounding landscape in several respects. The patches provided relatively shaded, cool, and damp conditions, with higher grass and more leaf-litter cover. The location of these patches in the landscape is probably determined by drainage patterns, soil moisture-holding ability, and stochastic recruitment of shade trees. Conclusions: These scattered patches provide a critically important habitat for lizards (and probably, other taxa) within this hot dry landscape. Future conservation and management strategies need to prioritize the retention of such sites, at a spatial scale that allows animals to move between them.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Biotelemetry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • abiotic cues
  • habitat selection
  • reptile thermoregulation
  • spatial ecology
  • wet-dry tropics


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