Longnose Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Home Range and Habitat Use on Cannonball Mesa, Colorado
The longnose leopard lizard is one of the largest lizards found in the major desert systems of North America. It inhabits xeric shrublands from eastern Oregon to western Colorado and from southern Idaho to northern Mexico. Studies of longnose leopard lizard movement and microhabitat use have found lizards utilize several ha of sparsely-covered shrubs with minimal grass cover. However, there is limited information on longnose leopard lizard movement and habitat use in western Colorado, where populations may be declining.
To study longnose leopard lizard habitat use and movement in the eastern part of its range, we radio-collared seven lizards on Cannonball Mesa in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Montezuma County, Colorado. We found longnose leopard lizards’ mean home range size was 20 ha, and lizards utilized habitats with medium cover of one-seeded juniper and Mormon tea, but with little grass cover. Because longnose leopard lizards occupy relatively large parcels of xeric shrublands with minimal grass cover, populations may be more and more isolated as shrublands are cleared and invaded by exotic grasses. It is possible that longnose leopard lizards act as indicators of healthy, undisturbed shrublands in the arid Southwest.