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Short-term impact of grassland fire on the endangered pygmy bluetongue lizard


C. Michael Bull, School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Tel: 61 8 8201 2263; Fax: 61 8 8201 3015.


Wildfires may be beneficial to overall biodiversity in continuous habitat, but may have more severe impacts on individual species that are confined to small fragments of suitable habitat. The pygmy bluetongue lizard Tiliqua adelaidensis, is now confined to a few isolated fragments of previously extensive native grasslands in South Australia. A grassland fire that burned through the entire area of one population in December 2005 did not kill adult lizards, nor affect the subsequent fecundity of females, but was followed by significant reductions in activity and foraging and a decline in body condition relative to another population in an unburned site. While the study was not, and should not be replicated, our observations suggest that fire has a negative short-term impact on isolated populations of this species.