Microhabitat selection of the Western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus) in the Okanagan region of British Columbia

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Understanding microhabitat features is an important aspect of managing for the persistence of reptile species. The Western skink (Plestiodon skiltonianus, formerly Eumeces skiltonianus) is an at-risk lizard species in B.C. Very little information on the habitat requirements of this species is known, which hinders federal and provincial management planning efforts. Microhabitat variables were measured at a study site in Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area, and microsites used by skinks were compared to randomly located microsites within the individual’s home range. Principle Components Analysis and paired Logistic Regression models showed that the best microhabitat predictors for skink presence were thickness of rocks and percentage of rock cover within a 1m area of the sighting location. Thermal profile analysis indicated P. skiltonianus used rocks that maintained a cooler daily maximum temperature. Future research should focus on further describing habitat selection at several spatial scales and clarifying the distribution of the species in B.C.
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