Biology of the invasive delicate skink (Lampropholis delicata) on Lord Howe Island

Chapple, David G., Miller, Kimberly A., Chaplin, Kirilee, Barnett, Louise, Thompson, Michael B., and Bray, Rebecca D. (2015) Biology of the invasive delicate skink (Lampropholis delicata) on Lord Howe Island. Australian Journal of Zoology, 62 (6). pp. 498-506.

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Abstract

Lord Howe Island (LHI) is a remote oceanic island in the south-west Pacific that is World Heritage listed due to its diverse, and largely endemic, biota. A suite of introduced species have colonised the island, resulting in the widespread population declines of many native species. The delicate skink (Lampropholis delicata De Vis) was accidentally introduced to LHI from mainland eastern Australia, but there has been no detailed investigation of its biology on the island, or its potential impact on the native biota. We conducted a detailed study of the distribution and biology of the delicate skink on LHI over a six-year period (2007–12). The delicate skink was introduced to LHI in the 1980s, and rapidly spread across the island. It presently occurs in all 21 low-elevation vegetation communities on LHI. The delicate skink is diurnal on LHI, and displays seasonal variation in activity with a peak in November–December. The delicate skink exhibits sexual dimorphism with females having larger body and abdomen sizes and males having longer and broader heads, although the degree of genetic admixture may influence morphology on LHI. Females reproduce in spring and summer (September–February), with a positive relationship between body size and clutch size. Clutch size ranges from 1 to 7 (mean 3.4) and communal egg nests (11–200+ eggs) are common. Tail loss is common on LHI (55%), but is more frequent in adults and females. We conclude that, based on its distribution and abundance, the delicate skink has the potential to impact the diverse and endemic invertebrate fauna on LHI.

Item ID: 38795
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1446-5698
Keywords: activity, genetic admixture, invasive species, lizard, Pacific region, tail loss
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), National Geographic Society, Hermon Slade Foundation, Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment , ANZ Trustees Foundation, Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Monash University
Projects and Grants: ARC DP0771913, National Geographic Society (CRE 8085-06 and CRE 8952-11), Hermon Slade Foundation HSF09-02
Date Deposited: 14 May 2015 01:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060308 Life Histories @ 25%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060809 Vertebrate Biology @ 25%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 60%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
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