Predator attack rates and anti-predator behavior of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) at Southern California wind farms, USA

Journal Article

Title: Predator attack rates and anti-predator behavior of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) at Southern California wind farms, USA
Publication Date:
April 30, 2018
Journal: Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Volume: 13
Issue: 1
Pages: 194-204
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Citation

Keehn, J.; Feldman, C. (2018). Predator attack rates and anti-predator behavior of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) at Southern California wind farms, USA. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 13(1), 194-204.
Abstract: 

The development of renewable wind energy farms changes land-use patterns at a landscape scale. Wind energy sites are characterized by high levels of anthropogenic disturbance (e.g., noise, roads, structures, etc.) that can facilitate the use of wind farms by some species, while fragmenting and degrading habitat for others. We lack an understanding of how these species-specific responses to changes in habitat quality will affect patterns of species interactions. Here, we test whether changes in habitat quality alter predator attack rates and anti-predator behavior in Side-blotched Lizards (Uta stansburiana) at wind farms relative to reference sites in the San Gorgonio Wind Resource Area (SGWRA) of Southern California, USA. We use clay models of Side-blotched Lizards to show that predator attack rates on these lizards appear lower at turbine sites (though total number of predation attempts precludes robust statistical analysis). We then use flight-initiation-distance (FID) trials to show that Side-blotched Lizards are also less wary to approaching predators at turbine sites. These data suggest that Side- blotched Lizards have responded to changes in predator community composition and abundance at disturbed wind farms by becoming less wary. Additional work is needed to better understand how other species will respond to changes in community structure at wind farm developments, and whether wind farm habitats are truly suitable for a wide variety of terrestrial taxa.

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