Microhabitat preferences of the prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) in southwestern Manitoba

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Larkin, Jill A.
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In Canada, the endangered prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) exists only in southwestern Manitoba. Habitat loss is the most significant threat faced by the prairie skink in Canada, with leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) invasion identified as one of the suspected factors contributing to habitat loss. The objectives of this study were to determine microhabitat preferences and effect of leafy spurge on prairie skinks in southwestern Manitoba. To determine microhabitat preferences, occupied sites were compared to unoccupied sites. Artificial cover was identified as the most important microhabitat element. To determine the impacts of spurge on microhabitat, ground temperatures in invaded were compared to un-invaded sites. No significant differences in temperature or skink density were observed between invaded and un-invaded site; however, skinks were more likely to use spurge when cover was present, than when no cover was present. Artificial cover may improve microhabitat by providing refuge from predators and microhabitat for prey.
Prairie skink, Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Plestiodon septentrionalis, Microhabitat