Experimental trial of Australian arid zone reptiles as early warning indicators of overgrazing by cattle

  • Published source details Read J.L. (2002) Experimental trial of Australian arid zone reptiles as early warning indicators of overgrazing by cattle. Austral Ecology, 27, 55-66.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cease livestock grazing: Grassland & shrubland

Action Link
Reptile Conservation
  1. Cease livestock grazing: Grassland & shrubland

    A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 1994–1997 in three sites of chenopod scrubland in South Australia, Australia (Read 2002), found that overall reptile species richness and capture rates were similar at ungrazed sites compared to those under short-term intensive grazing, but that capture rates of one species increased one year after intensive grazing. Overall reptile captures and species richness were similar in an ungrazed area and in paddocks with short-term intensive grazing, both immediately before and after grazing, and one year after grazing (results reported as statistical model outputs). Central netted dragon Ctenophorus nuchalis capture rates remained similar in the ungrazed area (0.5–0.6 individuals/plot) and grazed areas immediately before and after grazing (before: 0.3–0.6 individuals/plot, after 0.5–0.5), but were lower one year later in the ungrazed area (0.4) than in the grazed area (1.1–1.5). See paper for details of other species capture rates. Reptiles were surveyed in three sites: an ungrazed area and two adjacent short-term intensively grazed paddocks (20 ha each). Intensive grazing consisted of releasing 70–80 cattle into each paddock for 6–18 days in winter and summer 1995. Reptile surveys took place twice before, twice immediately after, and twice one year after grazing using drift fences with pitfall traps open for 10 days at a time (18 fence-trap plots in grazed and in 12 in ungrazed paddocks). Captured lizards were marked with unique toe clips.

    (Summarised by: Maggie Watson, Katie Sainsbury)

Output references
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