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Lack of refuge as a bottleneck for reptiles in intensive woody crops

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-30, 17:05 authored by Marta Canós-Burguete, Mizar Torrijo-Salesa, Francisco S. Tortosa, José Guerrero-Casado

The lack of refuge has been suggested as one of the main factors affecting reptiles in intensive crops, but this theory has not been explored to any great extent. The aim of this work is to compare the reptile abundance and species richness between traditional and intensive vineyards and olive groves, and to test the acceptance of artificial shelter due to its scarcity in the new intensive woody crop. A total of 288 transects were carried out (144 in olive groves and 144 in vineyards) in six different types of plots: traditional olive groves, traditional vineyards, intensive olive groves with and without artificial refuge, and trellis vineyards with and without artificial refuge. The results showed a greater species richness and abundance of reptiles in the traditional plots than in the intensive plots (independently of the experimental refuges added). An important number of animals were observed using the artificial refuges in olive groves. Furthermore, most of the individuals were located on or escaped to old trees in traditional systems, including an important proportion of reptiles hidden in olive trunk cavities, whereas more individuals were observed on the ground in intensive systems. Our finding suggests the importance for reptile communities of the traditional agricultural systems due to the high availability of the refuge provided by old olive tree trunks and free-standing gobelet vineyards. Our results show that providing refuge may mitigate the negative effects of woody crops intensification on reptile communities.