The castaway: characteristic islet features affect the ecology of the most isolated European lizard

Petros Lymberakis, Efstratios D. Valakos, Kostas Sagonas, Panayiotis Pafilis


The ecological importance of islet endemics are in the front line of conservation efforts and thus the good knowledge of their biology is required. Podarcis levendis is a lacertid lizard, endemic to two rocky islets in the Cretan Sea, Greece, that was raised to specific level in 2008 and since then no data on its biology are available. Here we present the first ecological information on the species, focusing on population density, tail autotomy and feeding preferences. We recorded regenerated and damaged tails in the field and estimated population density with the transect method. We also dissected museum specimens and analyzed their stomach content. Regenerated tails were common and reached a considerable 71%. The latter finding could be attributed to the intense intraspecific competition due to high population density but also to the seasonal predation pressure by migratory birds. The diet of P. levendis coincides with that of other insular congenerics, including high percentages of plant material.

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