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Effects of landscape structure and patch characteristics on the density of central populations of the eastern green lizard Lacerta viridis
  • Ana María Prieto Ramírez
Ana María Prieto Ramírez
Stiftung Universitat Hildesheim

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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A better understanding of the impact of habitat loss on population density can be achieved by evaluating effects of both, parameters within remnant habitat patches and parameters of the landscape surrounding those patches. The integration of predictors at the patch and landscape level is scarce in animal ecological studies, especially for reptiles. In this study, a patch-landscape approach was applied to evaluate the combined effects of within patch habitat quality, patch geometry and landscape configuration and composition on the density of remnant populations of the eastern green lizard, Lacerta viridis, in a highly modified landscape in Bulgaria. Landscape composition variables (proportion of different land covers) were measured at different spatial scales surrounding patches. Single scale models were built to evaluate combined effects of all predictors on density, when including all landscape composition variables at a specific spatial scale. Multiscale models were applied to analyze combined effects when including landscape composition variables at the scale of their strongest effect (scale of effect, SoE). Results showed that the SoE of proportion of cropland and urban areas was small (50 m), while for proportion of habitat was large (1.5 Km). The overall effect of habitat loss was better explained by the multiscale model. Population density increased with patch area and decreased with patch shape irregularity and with the proportion of three land cover types surrounding patches -cropland, urban areas and habitat. Combining patch and landscape parameters is important to identify ecological processes that occur simultaneously at different spatial levels and landscape scales, and which would imply the application of multiscale approaches for the protection of wild animal populations. Results are contrasted with what is known about occupancy patterns of the species in the same region, and approaches to integrate both, occupancy and density, in the field design of animal ecological studies are suggested.
26 Apr 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
27 Apr 2023Submission Checks Completed
27 Apr 2023Assigned to Editor
11 May 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
15 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Jun 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
13 Jul 20231st Revision Received
14 Jul 2023Submission Checks Completed
14 Jul 2023Assigned to Editor
14 Jul 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
24 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Accept