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Activity patterns and habitat selection in a population of the African fire skink (Lygosoma fernandi) from the Niger Delta, Nigeria

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The African fire skink, Lygosoma fernandi, is a poorly known, large scincid species inhabiting the rainforests of central and western Africa. Aspects of its field ecology (daily and seasonal activity patterns and habitat selection) were studied at a coastal site in southeastern Nigeria. Skinks were studied by both pitfall traps and visual encounter survey techniques for a total of 40 field days (20 in the dry and 20 in the wet season) by nine researchers. Over 98% of skinks (n=106) were active between 1715 and 1830, while only 2% were found out of their burrow earlier in the day. Above-ground activity was significantly more intense during the wet season. Lygosoma fernandi selected habitat types regardless of their relative availability in the field, and showed a clear preference for swamp forest and lowland forest patches. Mangrove swamps were, on the other hand, actively avoided.
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Keywords: ECOLOGY; MORPHOMETRY; SCINCIDAE; WEST AFRICA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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