Abstract

Home range is defined as the area within which an individual moves to acquire resources necessary to increase their fitness and may vary inter and intra-specifically with biotic and abiotic factors. This study details the home range of the parthenogenic lizard, Aspidoscelis cozumela, an active forager microendemic to Cozumel Island, México, with high preference for open sand beaches. The home range of A. cozumela was compared with other species of Aspidoscelis (gonochoric and parthenogenetic) and other lizards that occupy coastal habitats. Furthermore, the biotic and abiotic factors that may influence home range were analyzed. This study was conducted in the beach located on the East side of the island (area of 4 000 m2) that is composed primarily of halophyte vegetation with high levels of sunlight. From 1999 to 2001, nine samples were taken which included the dry, rainy, “nortes”, and breeding seasons. During each sampling, capture-mark-recapture techniques were conducted and the date, time of day, and snout-vent length (SVL) were recorded to the nearest millimeter. Individuals were located in the study area using a bi-coordinate reference using 10 x 10 m subdivisions of the habitat. Home range and home range overlap were calculated using the convex polygon method in McPaal and home range/SVL correlation was tested using Pearson´s correlation. To calculate females home range, three or more recaptures were considered. A total of 20 home ranges that averaged 45.1 ± 14.0 m2 were obtained and no correlation between SVL and home range size was detected (p = 0.9229, n = 20). However, removing individuals with outlier home ranges (females with home ranges > 100 m2, n = 2) resulted in a positive correlation with SVL (r = 0.61, p = 0.0072, n = 18). A 22.9 ± 5.7% overlap in home range was also detected. The small home range of A. cozumela represents the smallest home range within the Aspidoscelis genus recorded to date (including both parthenogenetic and gonochoric species) and contrasts the theoretical predictions of broad home ranges for widely foraging species. Thermoregulatory benefits and a high population density may explain the small home range of A. cozumela. Although this species is highly adapted to the environmental conditions present on the open sand beaches, anthropogenic effects on these habitats by the development of tourism infrastructure may jeopardize their existence on Cozumel Island.

Keywords: Squamata, Teiidae, Aspidoscelis cozumela, parthenogenesis, home range.