Assessing habitat quality parameters and sand properties on sand lizard 'Lacerta agilis' breeding sites to inform the creation of receptor sites. Quarry Life Award final project report

Greshon, S, Collier, C, Davies, Ceri ORCID: 0000-0003-3484-2866, Moore, S, Plumb, A, Richardson, M, Skellern, A, Thavarajah, M, Thompson, R and Watts, D (2022) Assessing habitat quality parameters and sand properties on sand lizard 'Lacerta agilis' breeding sites to inform the creation of receptor sites. Quarry Life Award final project report. Project Report. Heidelberg Materials.

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Research shows that the internationally protected sand lizard Lacerta agilis L. has specific habitat requirements, especially when occurring at the edge of its distribution range. Quarrying for sand and gravel deposits when the occurrence of sand lizards and other rare species has been confirmed necessitates the translocation of the animals to a suitable receptor site to preserve breeding populations and to avoid legislative penalties. The aim of this research project was to compare habitat quality and sand quality parameters in one such receptor site, Hyde Pit at Masters Quarry in Dorset, with nearby known sand lizard breeding sites to inform the future creation of suitable receptor sites within the context of planned resource extraction, and climate change. We were able to confirm that the receptor site features many of the known key habitat parameters essential for sand lizards, both in terms of vegetation structure and floral composition, as well as sand quality. Specifically, multivariate ordination techniques using a comprehensive set of environmental variables confirmed that Hyde Pit clusters in considerable overlap with the other known L. agilis breeding sites but features more extensive areas of bare sand and early successional habitat, which is known to be particularly crucial for breeding activity. Managed removal of dense coniferous woodland releases suppressed and fragmented heathland, and existing low numbers of sand lizards, supplemented by animals translocated from planned sand reserves, can form viable populations under these conditions. Receptor areas may represent important foci for sand lizard population expansion under conditions of climate change and heathland succession. Focusing management on improving conditions for the sand lizard on these newly created heathland mosaic sites may also prove to be important for maintaining populations of other specialist heathland organisms.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Additional Information: Winner of the national competition and also winner of the international 'Habitat & Species' section in the fifth edition of the 2022 Quarry Life Awards sponsored by BirdLife and Heidelberg Materials.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Ceri Davies
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2023 14:18
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2023 14:24

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