Islands in a sea of sand: Use of Acacia trees by tree skinks in the Kalahari Desert

William E. Cooper*, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In the Kalahari desert the tree skink Mabuya striata sparsa occupies Acacia trees separated by areas of open sand. On a single day in austral spring, the effects of tree size and structural complexity, presence of colonial nests of weavers, and fallen limbs on lizard abundance, and of time of day and air temperature on numbers of lizards active, location on trees, ground, or ground cover, and occupation of sunny, shaded, or partially shaded sites were examined. Multiple regression showed that the numbers of adult and total lizards increased with tree size, amount of ground cover, and air temperature. Neither number and size of sociable weaver nests nor complexity of tree shape affected lizard abundance. Proportions of lizards on trees and ground did not vary with time of day; neither did height above ground among individuals on trees. The proportions of lizards fully exposed to the sun was higher early and late in the day than at midday, when more lizards occupied shaded sites. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-381
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Abundance
  • Acacia erioloba
  • Activity
  • Mabuya striata sparsa
  • Microhabitat use
  • Temperature


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