Persistence of Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma spp.) in urban preserves of Central Arizona
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- Sullivan, B.K., Sullivan, K.O., Vardukyan, D. et al. Urban Ecosyst (2014) 17: 707. doi:10.1007/s11252-014-0353-4
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Urbanization is rapidly enveloping isolated remnants of Sonoran Desert habitat in southern Arizona. Understanding the means by which herpetofauna can persist in these habitats in the face of multiple impacts is vital to conservation efforts to retain intact biotic communities, especially those with a high diversity of reptile species. We surveyed ten preserves in the Phoenix Metropolitan region for Desert (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) and Regal (Phrynosoma solare) horned lizards, members of an iconic group of lizards of the Southwest. At least one horned lizard species is found in preserves across the range in size, age and habitat axes we assessed, provided that their primary prey, seed-harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex rugosus) are present. Horned lizards are apparently absent from one large preserve where they were once present, perhaps as a result of a decline in seed-harvester ants, but they may have been absent from other preserves due to the lack of appropriate habitat for their prey rather than due to direct anthropogenic impacts.