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Experimental rock outcrops reveal continuing habitat disturbance for an endangered Australian snake

By Ross L Goldingay and David A Newell


Protected areas are commonly viewed as safe havens for endangered species. To test this notion, we experimentally constructed small rock outcrops for the endangered broad-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides) within a national park near Sydney, Australia. Rock outcrops provide vital shelter sites during the cooler months of the year. Constructed rock outcrops (3 × 5 m) were placed at 11 paired sites located near (≤250 m) and far from (\u3e400 m) walking tracks and roads. Eight of our 22 rock outcrops were disturbed by people over a 15-month period. Disturbance consisted of displacement of some rocks or complete destruction of the outcrop. Disturbed outcrops occurred up to 450 m from a walking track or road. Disturbance to natural outcrops has also been observed in this park. This demonstrates a continuing decline in the quality of this snake\u27s habitat. Twenty of our rock outcrops were colonized by velvet geckos (Oedura lesueurii), the primary prey of this snake. One broad-headed snake was found in one outcrop. According to these findings, attempts to restore the habitat of this endangered snake should be centered on sites located ≥500 m from a walking track or road. Our study highlights the value of targeted experiments that precede larger-scale habitat restoration

Topics: Disturbance, endangered species, habitat restoration, outcrop, snake, Gekkonidae, Hoplocephalus bungaroides, Oedura, Oedura lesueurii, Serpentes, Environmental Health and Protection, Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment, Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Sciences
Publisher: ePublications@SCU
Year: 2000
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Provided by: ePublications@SCU
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