Lizard – Argentina

Lizard – Argentina

Estimation of Home Range of Liolaemus multimaculatus and Liolaemus wiegmannii at a coastal dune zone

L. multimaculatus presents a vulnerable conservation status.

The signal was received even when individuals were buried in the sand (between 2 and 3 cm) or inside a small cave

Home range of Liolaemus wiegmannii and Liolaemus multimaculatus in coastal Pampean pastures, Argentina

Carolina Block1, Stellatelli Oscar1, Laura Vega1, Isacch Juan Pablo1 and Cruz Félix2

1Vertebrates Laboratory, Department of Biology, Institute of Marine and Coastal Research (IIMyC), CONICET, Faculty of Natural Sciences, National University of Mar del Plata, Dean Funes 3250, Mar del Plata 7600, Buenos Aires, Argentina

2Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Research (Inibioma), CONICET- National University of Comahue, Quintral 1250, San Carlos de Bariloche 8400, Rio Negro, Argentina.


Home range is defined as the area where an individual performs daily activities and finds the necessary resources (food, water, shelter, breeding sites, proper temperatures) that allow development of its life cycle (Burt 1943, Rose 1982). Home range depends of both specific biological factors to a species or individual (size, age, sex) and environmental factors (habitat structure, season), and therefore, reflects many of the interactions of a population animal environment (Richard 1970). For this reason it can be used as an approximate indicator of resource requirements by an animal (Perry & Garland 2002).

The lizards adjust the size and location of the area in which they operate in response to changes in habitat structure and productivity, as well as seasonal changes and / or climate (Sheldahl & Martins 2000, Meik et al. 2002 Haenel et al., 2003, Wone & Beauchamp 2003, Kerr & Bull 2006). In this regard, it has been observed that lizards with terrestrial habits have more extensive home ranges than arboreal or saxicolous species who occupy sites with a more complex vertical structure (Perry & Garland 2002).

Liolaemus multimaculatus and Liolaemus wiegmannii are two species of small arenicolous lizards (up to 70 mm and 64 mm SVL, respectively) which belong to group L. wiegamannii (Etheridge 2000, Avila et al. 2009). L. multimaculatus is strictly arenicolous and endemic, whose distribution is restricted to coastal dunes ecosystem of the Province of Buenos Aires and Rio Negro (1993 Cei, Scolaro 2006) and has “Vulnerable” conservation status (Abdala et al. 2012). In the province of Buenos Aires it is distributed along the coastal strip between Punta Rasa and Bahia Blanca (Vega & Bellagamba 1992). In these environments is commonly found in dunes and on the distal beach in an array of open spaces with low coverage pioneer vegetation (Vega 1999). Meanwhile, L. wiegmannii has a wider distribution, from southern Brazil and Uruguay, and in Argentina from Jujuy to Patagones, south of the province of Buenos Aires (Scolaro 2006). It’s akin to sandy substrates (Gallardo 1977, Cei 1993 Martori et al. 1998) and in the province of Buenos Aires, inhabits the coastal Dunes ecosystem where it is common to observe it in semi-fixed dunes with medium vegetation cover, away from open spaces and the beach (Vega 2001, 2010). The aim of this study was to estimate the critical home range of Liolaemus wiegmannii and Liolaemus multimaculatus at a coastal dune field of the Barrera Medanosa Oriental in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


By hand and with a cane, adults of L. multimaculatus (5 males and 2 females) and L. wiegmannii (11 males and 11 females) we captured. Sex was determined based on secondary sexual characteristics (Cei 1993). Each lizard was measured snout-vent length (SVL) with digital gauge (SC111001, Schwyz MR., Buenos Aires, Argentina) and weighed through portable pocket digital scale (CH02, premium Diamond MR., China). They were then fitted with radio transmitters (TXB-001G, Telenax) attached to the back with cyanoacrylate following the procedures of White & Garrott (1990) and finally proceeded to release at the exact point of capture. Each individual was followed for 4 consecutive days between 09:00 and 18:00 hours, which corresponds to the time span when these species are active (Vega 1999). Each sighting position determined by a system of Cartesian axes in which the origin (x = 0, y = 0) coincides with the position of the initial point of capture.


The use of small Telenax transmitters (0.6 g) allowed us to estimate the critical home range of two small arenicolous species of lizards: Liolaemus multimaculatus and Liolaemus wiegmannii. In our case, it presented advantages over other tracking techniques, such as capture-mark-recapture. Among these advantages we can mention the ability to determine the position of individuals with minimal disturbance, the possibility of intensive monitoring of each individual in a short time and obtaining a greater number of observations for each individual.

In all cases it was relatively easy to determine the exact position of each lizard. The transmitter signal was very clear and could be found just over 100 meters away, although it was not tested at greater distances because we did not need to look for longer distances. The signal was received even when individuals were buried in the sand (between 2 and 3 cm) or within a not very deep small cave.

The use of these transmitters not only allowed us to spatially locate individuals, but also to obtain data on thermoregulatory behavior and microhabitat use, since each time an individual was detected, we determined the type of plant used and see if it was in full sun, partial shade, full shade or buried in (we could see the transmitter´s antenna sticking out of the sand).


This study is funded by the National University of Mar del Plata (UNMdP, project “Ecology and Conservation of Vertebrates”), the National Research Council (CONICET) through doctoral fellowships and Neotropical Grassland Conservancy (NGC) through grant programs for students and research equipment.


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Telenax wishes to thank Laura Vega Ph. D., Biologist Carolina Block and the National University of Mar del Plata for sharing this article

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