Blunt-nosed leopard lizard

Blunt-nosed leopard lizard

Primary Investigator: Mark Statham

Collaborators: Mike Westphal (BLM), Deb Woollett (Working dogs for conservation), Jenna Braun (York University), Jon Richmond (USGS), Ben Sacks (UCD), Rory Telemeco (Fresno Chaffee Zoo).

Funding: NSF, Bureau of Land Management.

The blunt-nosed leopard lizard (BNLL) 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 useful monitoring and sampling tool.

We have also developed tools to genetically identify individual BNLL from the DNA recovered from scat. Such information facilitates population size estimation as well as other demographic analyses. We are currently at the later stages of developing a DNA based tool for high resolution diet analysis (metabarcoding) in the BNLL and sympatric lizards.

Publications and Reports:

Statham MJ, Woollett (Smith) D, Fresquez S, Pfeiffer JU, Richmond J, Whitelaw A, Richards N, Westphal MF, Sacks BN. (2020) Noninvasive identification of herpetofauna: pairing conservation dogs and genetic analysis. Journal of Wildlife Management. 84: 66-74.