Microhabitat separation and niche overlap among five assemblages of tropical skinks

Goodman, Brett A. (2007) Microhabitat separation and niche overlap among five assemblages of tropical skinks. Australian Journal of Zoology, 55 (1). pp. 15-27.

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The niche axes of microhabitat use, activity and size for 21 skink species from five assemblages (Alligator Creek, Cairns, Chillagoe, Cooktown and Mt Bartle Frere) in the biodiverse tropics of north-east Queensland were examined. Species within the same assemblage separated predominantly along two structural microhabitat gradients; one that ranged from microhabitats dominated by large rocks to leaf litter and total ground cover, and a second defined byincreasing leaf litter, ground cover, undergrowth, proximity to vegetation and increased canopy cover. All species used available microhabitats non-randomly, with species from the same ecotype (arboreal, generalist, litter-dwelling, rockusing)clustering in multivariate ecological space. Despite evidence of within-assemblage niche overlap, null-model comparisons revealed that only one assemblage (Chillagoe) had greater niche overlap than would be expected by chance. Assemblages with more species occupied smaller niche space, indicating species packing. However, species with more diverse niches were less evenly packed. While most species overlapped in activity time and body size, differences among species from the same ecotype were observed. Despite subtle differences in temporal activity and body size, differences in structural microhabitat use appears to be the dominant niche axis allowing the coexistence of species within these assemblages of tropical skinks.

Item ID: 2376
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1446-5698
Keywords: microhabitat separation; niche space; adaptation; skinks; Carlia; Cryptoblepharus; Lampropholis; Morethia; Ctenotus; Eulamprus; Techamrscincus; lygosomine
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2009 05:06
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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