Habitat use by grass snakes and three sympatric lizard species on lowland heath managed using 'conservation grazing'

  • Published source details Reading C.J. & Jofre G.M. (2016) Habitat use by grass snakes and three sympatric lizard species on lowland heath managed using 'conservation grazing'. The Herpetological Journal, 26, 131-138.


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 controlled study in 2010–2013 in an area of mixed dry and wet heathland in Dorset, UK (Reading & Jofré 2016, same experimental set-up as Reading & Jofré 2015) found that three of four reptile species were more abundant in ungrazed compared to grazed areas, and the fourth species occurred at similar numbers in both areas. The ungrazed area contained more grass snakes Natrix natrix (2/plot), slow worms Anguis fragilis (67/plot) and common lizards Zootoca vivipara (13/plot) than the grazed area (grass snakes: 1/plot; slow worms: 29/plot; common lizards: 6/plot), whereas a similar number of sand lizards Lacerta agilis were found in the ungrazed (3/plot) and grazed (6/plot) areas. In February 2010, a fence was erected to exclude cattle from a 6 ha area of heathland that had been grazed by cattle Bos taurus. The remaining 4 ha continued to be grazed after the fence was erected. In 2010–2013, annual surveys for reptiles were conducted (21 surveys/year) by randomly placing 11 groups of 37 artificial refuges (407 refuges in total) during April–October (seven groups of refuges in the ungrazed area; four groups in the grazed area). The number of reptiles of each species was recorded at each visit.

    (Summarised by: William Morgan)

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