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Activity patterns and reproductive behavior of the Critically Endangered Bermuda skink (Plestiodon longirostris)

Williams, Leah J., Richardson, Kieran, Postlethwaite, Carolyn, Garcia, Gerardo, Wright, Nathan, Griffiths, Richard A. (2022) Activity patterns and reproductive behavior of the Critically Endangered Bermuda skink (Plestiodon longirostris). Zoo Biology, 42 (2). pp. 223-230. ISSN 1098-2361. (doi:10.1002/zoo.21738) (KAR id:100013)

Abstract

The study of rare or cryptic species in zoos can provide insights into natural history and behavior that would be difficult to obtain in the field. Such information can then be used to refine population assessment protocols and conservation management. The Bermuda skink (Plestiodon longirostris) is an endemic Critically Endangered lizard. Chester Zoo's successful conservation breeding program is working to safeguard, increase and reinforce skink populations in the wild. A key aim of this program is to develop our understanding of the behavior of this species. In this study, using 24 h video recordings, we examined the daily activity patterns, basking behavior and food preferences of four pairs of Bermuda skinks. The skinks displayed a bimodal pattern of activity and basking, which may have evolved to avoid the strength of the midday sun in exposed habitats in Bermuda. Captive Bermuda skinks appear to prefer a fruit‐based diet to orthopteran prey. We also documented their reproductive behavior and compared it against two closely related species. Although there were many similarities between the courtship and mating behaviors of the three species, there was a significantly shorter period of cloacal contact in the Bermuda skink. Oophagia was also documented for the first time in this species. This knowledge has enabled the evaluation of the current ex‐situ management practices of this species, filled gaps in knowledge that would be challenging to obtain in the field, and enabled the enhancement of both animal husbandry and reproductive success for the conservation breeding program.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/zoo.21738
Uncontrolled keywords: breeding; captivity; conservation; Scincidae
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Chester Zoo (https://ror.org/01ysrp540)
Depositing User: Richard Griffiths
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2023 22:31 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2023 13:00 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/100013 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Griffiths, Richard A..

Creator's ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5533-1013
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