HABITAT UTILIZATION BY THE TEXAS HORNED LIZARD (PHRYNOSOMA CORNUTUM) FROM TWO SITES IN CENTRAL TEXAS
The Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) is found in a variety of habitats. Although several studies have been conducted on habitat use by this species, none have been performed in central Texas, a more mesic habitat than most of those previously studied. This area is of special interest because horned lizard populations have been experiencing sharp declines in central Texas over the last approximately 50 years. We collected habitat data at two sites in central Texas, Camp Bowie and Blue Mountain Peak Ranch. Microhabitat data included canopy cover and ground cover from digitized photographs of Daubenmire quadrats; macrohabitat variables included vegetation height and length, cactus height, soil penetrability, woody plant species richness, tree density, tree diameter at breast height (DBH), and density of ant mounds collected along 100-m by 2-m transects. Similar patterns of habitat use were observed between the two sites. At Blue Mountain Peak Ranch, lizards appeared to be located in areas with a diversity of ground cover types, as observed in previous studies. At Camp Bowie, vegetation encroachment limited lizards in some areas to the use of roads and road margins. Implementation of prescribed burns or other vegetation management could create the preferred ground cover mosaic at such sites.