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Microhabitat use, seasonal activity and diet of the snake-eyed skink (Ablepharus kitaibelii fitzingeri) in comparison with sympatric lacertids in Hungary

Herczeg, Gábor, Kovács, Tibor, Korsós, Zoltán, Török, János
Biologia 2007 v.62 no.4 pp. 482-487
Lacerta, Podarcis muralis, adults, arthropods, diet, food composition, grasslands, juveniles, lizards, microhabitats, predation, shrublands, soil, stomach, summer, Hungary
Microhabitat selection and seasonal activity of the snake-eyed skink, Ablephaus kitaibelii fitzingeri, are compared to the two lacertid lizards (Lacerta viridis and Podarcis muralis) that co-occur in many of its habitats. The food composition of A. k. fitzingeri is also described. Significant differences in microhabitat selection and seasonal activity among the three species were found. The snake-eyed skink was associated with open grasslands, and with a low level of scrub, bare soil and rock cover. The microhabitat preference of L. viridis was quite similar to that of the skink, but with a higher preference for scrub. P. muralis occurred in places with greater rock and bare soil cover, and more scrub than A. k. fitzingeri. Activity of the snake-eyed skink decreased dramatically in summer, probably because of the reduced thermal inertia originating from the extremely small size of this species, but its seasonal activity overlapped with those of the lacertids. Stomach content analysis of the snake-eyed skink suggests that it is a generalist predator of small, mainly flightless arthropod prey. Competition with juvenile lacertids and predation by adult L. viridis are conceivable for the snake-eyed skink.