Dispatch from the field: catching leopard lizards in a mega-drought

Joe McLeod, Gambelia

Master lizard catcher Joe McLeod catches a blunt-nosed leopard lizard at its burrow entrance. Photo by Eliot Schoenig.

As part of research to support the conservation of blunt-nosed leopard lizards, starting in 2014, we resumed a capture-mark-recapture study on the Elkhorn Plain. The study plots were worked previously for 17 years by Dave Germano and ESRP.

One of the effects of drought we’ve found—in the mark-recapture data and in geographically extensive surveys—is that when precipitation levels are below a threshold the lizards fail to reproduce. That’s what we found in 2014 on the Elkhorn Plain: drought caused complete reproductive failure. Read more about the recruitment patterns we found here.

Gambelia sila

Leopard lizard under an Ephedra shrub. Photo by Elliot Schoenig.

Joseph Stewart holding Gambelia sila.

Me posing with two leopard lizards. Photo by Taylor Noble.