Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Animal Conservation 6 (2003), pp. 247–254; doi: 10.1017/S1367943003003305 Copyright © 2003 The Zoological Society of London; published by Wiley/Blackwell. Used by permission.


Eastern collared lizards (Crotaphytus collaris collaris) on the Ozark Plateau of southern Missouri are restricted to islands of rocky glade habitat located throughout the oak–hickory forests of the region. Human mediated suppression of fire negatively impacts collared lizard populations by permitting the overgrowth and consequent disappearance of this glade habitat and also leads to a dense forest understorey that impedes movement of lizards between glades. We present data examining the effects of a fire management regime on collared lizard populations we monitored via mark/recapture from 1998 to 2001. We demonstrate increased glade-to-glade dispersal, colonization of previously unoccupied glades, and a significant increase in population size in the burned area. In addition, we show that populations within burned areas exhibit body sizes similar to those reported for populations living on healthy habitat as compared to those living on habitat that has deteriorated because of fire suppression. We conclude that managed forest fires positively impact collared lizard populations in the Ozarks, promoting factors that increase the long-term sustainability of the species.

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