Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificial refuges created to save the reptiles of Dońana, Spain

Date:
December 2, 2009
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
The Aznalcóllar mining accident more than 11 years ago, which contaminated part of the Dońana National Park, also damaged reptile habitat there. Now a team of Spanish researchers, who have been studying the reptile community since 2000, have shown, by setting up artificial refuges, that the disappearance of natural refuges had a serious impact on lizard and snake numbers.

Timon lepidus, a type of lizard. The Aznalcóllar mining accident more than 11 years ago, which contaminated part of the Dońana National Park, also damaged reptile habitat there. Now researchers, who have been studying the reptile community by setting up artificial refuges, show that the disappearance of natural refuges had a serious impact on lizard and snake numbers.
Credit: Juan M. Pleguezuelos

The Aznalcóllar mining accident more than 11 years ago, which contaminated part of the Dońana National Park, also damaged reptile habitat there. Now a team of Spanish researchers, who have been studying the reptile community since 2000, have shown, by setting up artificial refuges, that the disappearance of natural refuges had a serious impact on lizard and snake numbers.

Related Articles


Nine years ago, researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and the University of Barcelona (UB) started to study the reptile community in the Dońana ecological corridor. The scientists, who have published the results of this study in the journal Restoration Ecology, found the population at that time to be "very impoverished," and were only able to find one of the 13 reptile species present in the surrounding areas -- the European common gecko (Tarentola mauritanica).

"Despite all the landscape restoration work done after the disaster, the habitat had lost almost all the natural refuges for land fauna, so we came up with the theory that this was the reason behind the lack of reptiles," said Juan Manuel Pleguezuelos, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Department of Animal Biology at the UGR.

The team carried out a five-year experiment in order to show the need for refuges that provide protection against predators, and microclimate conditions. They created artificial refuges (120 groups of tree trunks) on a 24-hectare experimental site. They could thus monitor any changes over time in the reptile community at this site and compare them with another, similarly-sized site without any such refuges.

Tree trunks, a comfortable home

"The modified area with the artificial refuges showed faster recuperation of the reptile community in terms of diversity and abundance of species than the control area that didn't have any artificial refuges," says Pleguezuelos.

After the new refuges were installed, the reptile community grew from just one species, the European common gecko, in 2000-2001, to six species in 2006. It also increased in abundance from one individual per unit effort to more than five.

The biologists also deduced that colonisation by reptiles of the Guadiamar Green Corridor was "transversal rather than linear, in other words it didn't actually act as a corridor for the reptiles, or at least not during the initial stages of colonisation." According to the researchers, the reptile populations colonising the Corridor came from areas immediately bordering it, not from the source areas that the Corridor is supposed to connect, these being the marshes of the Guadalquivir in the south and the Sierra Morena mountain range in the north.

"The results suggest that landscape rehabilitation programmes shouldn't overlook the availability of refuges for wildlife, a vital resource for Mediterranean reptiles, and something that can be put into place using an system as inexpensive as waste tree trunks," concludes the biologist.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Márquez-Ferrando et al. Recovering the Reptile Community after the Mine-Tailing Accident of Aznalcóllar (Southwestern Spain). Restoration Ecology, 2009; 17 (5): 660 DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2008.00404.x

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Artificial refuges created to save the reptiles of Dońana, Spain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127123917.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2009, December 2). Artificial refuges created to save the reptiles of Dońana, Spain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127123917.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Artificial refuges created to save the reptiles of Dońana, Spain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127123917.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins