Blunt-nosed leopard lizard

Investigator: Mark Statham (UCD)

Collaborators: Mike Westphal (BLM), Deb Woollett (Working dogs for conservation), Jon Richmond (USGS)

Funding: Bureau of Land Management.

The blunt-nosed leopard lizard is an endangered species endemic to the San Joaquin Desert of California. We have recently developed a non-invasive molecular species identification method for reptile fecal samples collected in the field. Such methods are commonly used for surveying and monitoring mammals, and to a lesser extent birds, however they have never been successfully applied in reptiles. Given that many reptile species are threatened and endangered, this technique represents a novel way for people to survey and monitor them.

We are currently developing methods to genetically identify individual lizards from the DNA recovered from scat. Such information would facilitate population size estimation, as well as other demographic analyses.