The population density of three lacertid lizards (Podarcis sicula, Podarcis muralis, Lacerta viridis) was studied along several transects crossing agro-forest habitats in Mediterranean central Italy. Overall, seven transects, in three different wooded patches, were walked for lizards. Distance sampling (with uniform model design) was applied to the dataset in order to calculate population size, dispersion, and coefficient of variation at each site. In order to detect which factors may influence lizard density, a Generalized Linear Model (GLZ; multinomial distribution and cumulative log link function) was built, with environmental variables and density of predators’ variables being included in the model as covariates (scale predictor). Density of the three lizard species differed significantly among study sites, evidencing species-specific responses to local patch conditions. None of the environmental variables taken separately in the GLZ model influenced significantly the lizard densities, whereas lizards densities showed species-specific response to the considered environmental variables. The largest species (L. viridis) showed the highest density in the fragment with the most irregular shape and largest wood size, whereas the two smaller Podarcis species presented their highest population density in the site with the smallest wood patch and with a very low snake density. Density of P. sicula was negatively correlated with both the woodland area and Colubridae density, and was positively correlated with woodland shape (i.e. with circularity).
Monte S. Biagio
Akaike Information criterion
second-order Akaike Information Criterion
Generalized Linear Model
Belovsky, G. E. 1987. Extinctions models and mammalian persistence. Viable populations for conservation. In: By M. E. Soulè (ed.), Viable Populations for Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. pp. 35–57.
Blackburn, T.M., Brown, V.K., Doube, B.M., Greenwood, J.J.D., Lawton, J.H. and Stork, N.E. 1993. The relationship between abundance and body size in natural assemblages. J. Anim. Ecol. 62: 519–528.
Blasi, C. 1994. Fitoclimatologia del Lazio. Fitosociologia 27: 151–175.
Bowers, M.A. and Matter, S.F. 1997. Landscape ecology of mammals: relationships between density and patch size. J. Mammal. 78: 999–1013.
Brotons, L., Mönkkönen, M. and Martin, L. 2003. Are fragments islands? Landscape context and density-area relationships in boreal forest birds. Amer. Nat. 3: 343–357.
Brown, R.M., Gist, D.H. and Taylor, D.H. 1995. Home range ecology of an introduced population of the European wall lizard Podarcis muralis (Lacertilia: Lacertidae) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Amer. Midl. Nat. 133: 344–359.
Buckland, S. T., Anderson, D. R., Burnham, K. P. and Laake, J.L. 1993. Distance Sampling: Estimating Abundance of Biological Populations. Chapman and Hall, London.
Buckland S. T., Anderson D. R., Burnham K. P., Laake J. I., Borchers D.L. and Thomas, L. 2001. Introduction to Distance Sampling. Oxford University Press. Oxford.
Buckley, L. B. and Rougharden, J. 2006. A hump-shaped density-area relationship for island lizards. Oikos 113: 243–250.
Burnham, K. P. and Anderson, D.R. 2002. Model Selection and Inference: A Practical Information-theoretical Approach. Springer, New York.
Capizzi, D. and Luiselli, L. 1996. Feeding relationships and competitive interactions between phylogenetically unrelated predators (owls and snakes). Acta Oecol. 17: 265–284.
Capula, M., Luiselli, L. and Rugiero, L. 1993. Comparative ecology in sympatric Podarcis muralis and P. sicula (Reptilia: Lacertidae) from the historical centre ofRome: What about competition and niche segregation inanurban habitat? Bollettino di Zoologia 60: 287–291.
Caughley, G. and Sinclair, A.R.E. 1994. Wildlife Ecology and Management. Blackwell, London.
Cazzola, A. 2004. La Riserva Naturale della Marcigliana: sistema di qualità e compensazione nell’area metropolitana romana. Convegno internazionale: Il sistema rurale una sfida per la progettazione tra salvaguardia, sostenibilità e governo delle trasformazioni; 13–14 October 2004.
Connor, E. F. and McCoy, E. D. 1979. The statistics and biology of the species-area relationships. Amer. Nat. 113:791–833.
Connor, E. F., Courtney, A. C. and James, M. Y. 2000. Individualsarea relationships: The relationship between animal population density and area. Ecology 81:734–748.
Crooks, K. R. and Soulé, M. E. 1999. Mesopredator release and avifaunal extinctions in a fragmented system. Nature 400: 563–566.
Damuth, J. 1981. Population density and body size in mammals. Nature 290: 699–700.
Damuth, J. 1987. Interspecific allometry of population density in mammals and other animals: the independence of body mass and population energy use. Biol. J. Linnean Soc. London 31: 193–246.
Gaston, K. J. and Blackburn, T.M. 1995. Birds, body size, and threat of extinction. Philos. Trans. Roy. Soc. London Series B: Biol. sci. 347: 205–212.
Gaston, K. J. and Blackburn, T.M. 1996. Conservation implications of geographic range size-body size relationships. Conserv. Biol. 10: 638–646.
Gotelli, N.J. and Entsminger, G.L. 2001. EcoSim:Null Models software for ecology. Version7.0. Available at http://garyentsmin-ger.com/ecosim/index.htm
Guidi, A., Battisti, C. and Panzarasa, S. 2002. Note su flora, fauna e paesaggio delle aree protette gestite dalla Provincia di Roma. Provincia di Roma, Roma.
Hamback, P. A., Summerville, K.S., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Krauss, J., Englund, G. and Crist, T.O. 2006. Habitat specialization, body size, and family identity explain lepidopteran density–area relationships in a cross-continental comparison. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 20: 8368–8373.
Hanski, I. 1991. Single-species metapopulation dynamics:concepts, models and observations. Biol. J. Linnean Soc. 42: 17–38.
Hanski, I. 1999. Metapopulation Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Hardin, J. and Hilbe, J. 2003. Generalized Estimating Equations. Chapman and Hall/CRC, London.
Hedley, S. L. and Buckland, S. T. 2004. Spatial models for line transect sampling. Amer. Stat. Assoc. International Biometric Society J. Agric. Biol. Environ. Stat. 9: 181–199.
Hein, E.W. 1997. Demonstration of line transect methodologies to estimate urban gray squirrel density. Environm. Manage. 21: 943–947.
Hurlbert, S. H. 1984. Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol. Monogr. 54: 187–211.
Jellinek, S., Driscoll, D. A. and Kirkpatrick, J. B. 2004. Environmental and vegetation variables have a greater influence than habitat fragmentation in structuring lizard communities in remnant urban bushland. Austral Ecol. 29: 294–304.
Joyal, L. A., McCollough, M. and Hunter, jr M.L. 2001. Landscape ecology approaches to wetland species conservation: a case study of two turtle species in Southern Maine. Conserv. Biol. 15: 1755–1762.
Kjoss, V.A. and Litvaitis, J.A. 2001. Community structure of snakes in a human-dominated landscape. Biol. Conserv. 98: 285–292.
Kotliar, N. B. and Wiens, J. A. 1990. Multiple scales of patchiness and patch structure: a hierarchical framework for the study of heterogeneity. Oikos 59: 253–260.
Laan, R. and Verboom, B. 1990. Effects of pool size and isolation on amphibian communities. Biol. Conserv. 54: 251–262
Lehtinen, R. M, Ramanamanjato, J.-B. and Raveloarison, J. G. 2003. Edge effects and extinction proneness in a herpetofauna from Madagascar. Biodivers. Conserv. 12: 1357–1370.
Luiselli, L. 2006. Testing hypotheses on the ecological patterns of rarity using a novel model of study: snake communities worldwide. Web Ecol. 6: 44–58.
Luiselli, L., Akani, G.C., Rugiero, L. and Politano, E. 2005a. Relationships between body size, population abundance and niche characteristics in the communities of snakes from three habitats in southern Nigeria. J. Zool., London 265: 207–213.
Luiselli, L., Filippi, E. and Capula, M. 2005b. Geographic variation in diet composition of the grass snake (Natrix natrix) along the mainland and an island of Italy: the effects of habitat type and interference with potential competitors. Herpetol. J. 15: 221–230.
MacArthur, R.H. and Pianka, E.R. 1966. On optimal use of a patchy environment. Amer. Nat. 100: 603–609.
Macchialo, P. and Sauli, A. S. 2006. La flora della Riserva Naturale della Marcigliana. Quaderni tecnici dei parchi del Lazio 1: 1–127.
Marsili, L., Casini, S., Mori, G., Ancora, S., Bianchi, N., D’Agostino, A., Ferraro, M. and Fossi, M.C. 2009. The Italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula) as a bioindicator of oil field activity. Sci. Total Environ. 407: 3597–3604.
Martin, J. and Lopez, M. 2001. Are fleeing “noisy” lizards signalling to predators? Acta Ethol. 3: 95–100.
Matter, S.F. 1997. Population density and area: the role of within and between patch processes. Oecologia 110: 533–538.
Matter, S.F. 1999. Population density and area: the role of within-and between-generation processes over time. Ecol. Model. 118: 261–275.
McCullagh, P. and Nelder, J. A. 1989. Generalized Linear Models, 2nd Ed. Chapman & Hall/CRC, London.
Nelder, J. and Wedderburn, R. 1972. Generalized Linear Models. J. Roy. Stat. Soc.. Series A (General) 135: 370–384.
Owens,. I.P.F. and Bennett, P.M. 2000. Ecological basis of extinction risk in birds: Habitat loss versus human persecution and introduced predators. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97: 12144.12148.
Peters, R. H. and Raelson, J. V. 1984. Relations between individual size and mammalian population density. Amer. Nat. 124 : 498–517.
Pilorge, T. 1988. Dynamique comparée de populations de lézards vivipares : regulation et variabilité intra- et interpopulationnelle. These de Doctorat d’Etat. [Dissertation] Universite Pierre et Marie Curie. Paris. France.
Rugiero, L. and Luiselli, L. 2007. Null model analysis of lizard communities in five urban parks of Rome. Amphibia-Reptilia 28: 547–553.
Saint Girons, H. and Bradshaw, S.D. 1989. Sédentarité, déplacements et répartition des individus dans une population de Lacerta viridis. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde 59: 63–70.
Schroder, G.D. 1981. Using edge effect to estimate animal densities. J. Mammal. 62: 568–573.
Simpson, E.H. (1949). Measurement of diversity. Nature 163: 688.
Sindaco, R., Doria, G., Razzetti, E. and Bernini, F., 2006. Atlante degli anfibi e dei rettili d’Italia. Societas Herpetologica Italica, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze.
Soulè, M.E., Bolger D.T., Alberts, A.C., Wright, J., Sorice, M. and Hills, S., 1988. Reconstructed dynamics of rapid extinctions of chaparral requiring birds in urban habitat islands. Conserv. Biol. 2: 75–92.
Tischendorf, L., Grez, A., Zaviezo, T. and Fahrig, L. 2005. Mechanisms affecting population density in fragmented habitat. Ecology and Society 10(1): 7. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol10/iss1/art7/
Urbina-Cardona, J. N., Olivarez-Perez, M. and Reynoso, V.H. 2006. Herpetofauna diversity and microenviroment correlates across a pasture-edge-interior ecotone in tropical rainforest fragments in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Riserve of Veracruz, Mexico. Biol. Conserv. 132: 61–75.
Venugopal, P. Dilip, 2010. Population density estimates of agamid lizards in human-modified habitats of the Western Ghats, India. Herpetol. J. 20: 69–76.
Vignoli, L., Mocaer, I., Luiselli, L. and Bologna, M. A. 2009. Can a large metropolis sustain complex herpetofauna communities? An analysis of the suitability of green space fragments in Rome. Animal Conserv. 12: 456–466.
Vollono, C. and Guarino, F.M. 2002. Analisi scheletrocronologica in alcune specie di Anfibi e Rettili del Parco Regionale del Matese. In: Odierna, G. and Guarino, F.M. (eds.). I Vertebrati ectotermi del Parco Regionale del Matese. Centro stampa dell'Universita degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Napoli. pp. 163–171.
Wiens, J. A. 1976. Population responses to patchy environments. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 7: 81–120.
Young, R.P., Volahy, A.T., Bourou, R., Lewis, R.E., Durbin, J. and Fa, J.E. 2008. Estimating the population of the endangered flattailed tortoise Pyxis planicauda in the deciduous, dry forest of western Madagascar: a monitoring baselines. Oryx 42: 252–258.
About this article
Cite this article
Maura, M., Vignoli, L., Bologna, M.A. et al. Population density of syntopic, differently sized lizards in three fragmented woodlands from Mediterranean Central Italy. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 12, 249–258 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.12.2011.2.14
- Central Italy
- Generalized Linear Models