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Landscape Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 11, pp 2631–2647 | Cite as

From the ground up: microhabitat use within a landscape context frames the spatiotemporal scale of settlement and vacancy dynamics in an endemic habitat specialist

  • Danielle K. WalkupEmail author
  • Wade A. Ryberg
  • Lee A. Fitzgerald
  • Toby J. Hibbitts
Research Article

Abstract

Context

Understanding how species are distributed throughout landscapes requires knowledge of the hierarchy of habitat selection made by individuals, the resulting spatiotemporal structure of demography, and the consequent dynamics of localized populations.

Objectives

We examined how patterns of habitat use, settlement, and vacancy in an endemic habitat specialist, Sceloporus arenicolus (dunes sagebrush lizard), varied within the Mescalero Monahans Sandhills ecosystem.

Methods

We used a 4-year mark-recapture dataset to develop occupancy models that identified whether microhabitat or landscape scale best predicted S. arenicolus spatiotemporal habitat use, settlement, and vacancy, in both an undisturbed and disturbed landscape.

Results

Our results showed areas of high quality habitat were used constantly and lower quality areas were used intermittently, but repeatedly, over time in the undisturbed landscape. Habitat use in the disturbed landscape was spatiotemporally unpredictable. Microhabitat variables characterizing dune landscape topography predicted probability of use in S. arenicolus, while landscape-scale variables predicted probabilities of settlement and vacancy. In the undisturbed landscape, future settlement was predicted by presence of S. arenicolus, a pattern consistent with fine-scale source-sink dynamics already described for this species.

Conclusions

Our results illustrate how spatially-discrete but temporally-linked areas should be conserved at fine spatiotemporal scales to secure persistence of S. arenicolus populations under variable environmental conditions. Disturbances to habitat continuity can disrupt individual movements and create inconsistently occupied habitat patches that appear to be unoccupied and thus are threatened by further disturbances.

Keywords

Mescalero Monahans Sandhill ecosystem Fragmentation Habitat use Sceloporus arenicolus Ecological scaling Habitat specialist 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Big thanks to all our field technicians, without whom this work would not have happened: Connor Adams, Jonathon Bolton, Sarah Bord, Logan Ediger, Aubany Fields, Shelby Frizzell, Aleyda Galan, Ana Hernandez, Cameron Hodges, Daniel Lay, Timmy Songer, Brooke Tolson, Scott Wahlberg, and J.M. Weidler. Thanks to Megan Young for assistance and logistics in the field. This is publication number 1620 of the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections at Texas A&M University.

Funding

This study was funded by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Tom Slick Graduate Fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10980_2019_909_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 5458 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources Institute, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Natural Resources InstituteTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  3. 3.Biodiversity, Research and Teaching Collection, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.Biodiversity, Research and Teaching Collection, Natural Resources Institute, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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