Fossorial life constrains microhabitat selection of the amphisbaenian Trogonophis wiegmanni

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Abstract:

We present a field study designed to characterize microhabitat selection in a population of Trogonophis wiegmanni, a fossorial reptile that is the only representative of the family Trogonophidae in North Africa. Our results show that T. wiegmanni used microhabitats in proportion to their availability with one exception: they showed a preference for areas with 5–10 cm high vegetation cover (i.e., perennial bushes and scrubs such as Atriplex halimus, Lycium intricatum, and Suaeda vera, and herbs such as Lavatera mauritanica and Malva parviflora). They avoided areas with abundant small stones, indicating that at least some structural characteristics of the microhabitat occupied by amphis bae nians seem to be different from those available. Our data also show that T. wiegmanni selected thinner and wider rocks than those rocks found randomly. Such choices could have important thermoregulatory consequences.

Notre étude de terrain cherche à caractériser la sélection de l'habitat chez une population de Trogonophis wiegmanni, un reptile fouisseur, seul représentant de la famille des Trogonophidae en Afrique du Nord. Trophonophis wiegmanni utilise les microhabitats en proportion de leur disponibilité, mais à une exception près : il montre une préférence pour les milieux qui possèdent un couvert végétal de 5–10 cm de hauteur (i.e., des arbustes permanents et des broussailles, tels que Atriplex halimus, Lycium intricatum et Suaeda vera, et des plantes herbacées, telles que Lavatera mauritanica et Malva parviflora). Il évite les endroits couverts de pierraille, ce qui indique que certaines caractéristiques des microhabitats occupés par les amphisbéniens semblent différer de ce qui est généralement disponible en nature. Nos données indiquent aussi que T. wiegmanni choisit des pierres plus minces et plus larges que les pierres disponibles au hasard. Ces choix ont peut-être d'importantes conséquences sur la thermorégulation.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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