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Reptile habitat preference in heathland: implications for heathland management

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A two-year reptile survey was conducted in a heathland in the north of the Netherlands, using artificial refuges placed in different habitats. The studied habitats differed in their botanical composition and physical structure. Five reptile species were recorded: slow worm (Anguis fragilis), viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara), smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), grass snake (Natrix natrix) and adder (Vipera berus). Randomization tests were applied to assess the relationship between the presence of reptile species and habitat. Highest numbers of reptiles were found in habitats with a combination of common heather and purple moor grass, whereas habitats with common rush scored the lowest. The slow-worm preferred habitats consisting of common heather or crowberry, or a combination of these plants with purple moor grass. The viviparous lizard preferred habitats with common heather and purple moor grass. The impact of current nature management on the maintenance and development of these habitats is discussed, and recommendations are given for reptile faunal management.
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Keywords: ANGUIS FRAGILIS; ARTIFICIAL REFUGES; CONSERVATION; HABITAT; NATURE MANAGEMENT; VEGETATION STRUCTURE; ZOOTOCA VIVIPARA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2012

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