Picking a tree: habitat use by the tree agama, Acanthocercus atricollis atricollis, in South Africa

Leeann T. Reaney, Martin J. Whiting*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We studied tree agama (Acanthocercus a. atricollis) habitat use in the Magaliesberg mountain range in northern South Africa using sightings of marked individuals, and in a few cases, radio-telemetry. Acanthocercus a. atricollis preferentially selected thorn trees (46%; Acacia karroo), followed by common sugarbush (10%; Protea caffra) and dead trees (9%). The type of tree selected was unrelated to lizard age class or sex. Multivariate analysis failed to show any age class or sex effects for specific tree physical characteristics, but did reveal a preference for trees with greater diameter, canopy cover and incidence of parasitic plants. We suggests that more 'complex' trees may enhance crypsis, facilitate escape from predation, or provide a foraging advantage. Acanthocercus a. atricollis selected night-time perches higher than those used during the day, possibly further offsetting predation risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalAfrican Zoology
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Age-sex differences
  • Lizard
  • Nocturnal retreat sites
  • Reptile
  • Tree selection

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