Using landowner knowledge and field captures to determine habitat use by the northern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) on exurban residential land in southwestern Manitoba

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Krause Danielsen, Allison Marie
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Exurban development, consisting of low density residential housing in a rural setting, is steadily increasing in North America. This increase may have negative impacts on the habitat for some species, through the introduction of non-native plants and new predators such as house cats. The northern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) is listed as Endangered in Canada occurring only in southwestern Manitoba. The objectives of this study included: a) defining prairie skink microhabitat use on private land according to vegetation, temperature and cover availability, b) determining landowner awareness of prairie skinks on their property, and c) determining how landowner stewardship could be used in skink conservation. Mixed methods strategy of inquiry was utilized and data collection procedures included both quantitative habitat surveys and qualitative landowner interviews. I found that prairie skinks were most often found in prairie habitat, and were found most often in areas with a) high percent artificial cover, b) high leaf litter, and c) more pieces of cover per acre. Landowners most often saw skinks near buildings, in flower beds and in debris piles. Landowner attitudes towards skinks were positive,though willingness may not translate into action.
Mixed-methods, prairie skink, mixed-grass prairie, exurban, development, habitat