What is it about?

Cities and urban processes typically have a negative impact on biodiversity via land cover change, high rates of disturbance and high densities of pest species. Increasingly, however, people are being encouraged and empowered to reduce these impacts through urban restoration and backyard conservation initiatives. Internationally, lizards are a common feature of urban biodiversity, but in New Zealand where many species are threatened, little is known about populations of native skinks and geckos in cities. Yet cities may offer unique opportunities for lizard conservation compared with alternatively modified habitats. To explore the potential of cities for the conservation of lizards, we collated knowledge about the current lizard faunas of six New Zealand cities and developed a list of species that would likely have been present in the locations of these cities prior to human settlement. Comparing the two, we found that, although each of the cities has at least one currently urban-dwelling species, the diversity of lizards in all of the cities has declined dramatically since human colonisation.

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Why is it important?

Patterns of species loss in cities reflect those observed across New Zealand more generally; that is, the loss of large-bodied skinks and geckos, probably resulting from predation by introduced mammalian predators, as well as the loss of regionally endemic species. The high diversity of species that are currently, or were historically, present in the locations of New Zealand cities means that urban restoration involving recovery or reintroduction of populations could have significant benefits for lizard conservation and advocacy.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Reviewing the past, present and potential lizard faunas of New Zealand cities, Landscape and Urban Planning, December 2019, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.103647.
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