2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

Niche Partitioning in a Chihuahuan Desert Lizard Community in New Mexico


Madison L. Pugh* and Whitney J. Oberman
Dr. Chad Montgomery , Faculty Mentor

Niche partitioning can reduce competition within a community, allowing for coexistence of multiple sympatric species.  The Chihuahuan Desert is a resource-poor environment, although lizards are relatively diverse.  We examined a northern Chihuahuan Desert lizard community to determine if the species partition one or more niche dimensions.  We examined microhabitat use (spatial niche), time and temperature of activity (temporal niche), and diet (trophic niche) among lizards.  Eleven species, representing five guilds, comprise the community.  Variation in body size existed among species. Macrohabitat use among species was generally similar, although variation in microhabitat use existed.  Time of activity and body temperature also varied among some species.  All species studied are insectivorous, although species differ in the size and type of prey they consume.  Niche partitioning along the three niche axes exists within the desert lizard community. Niche partitioning may account for high lizard diversity in this low resource environment.

Keywords: niche partitioning, competition, lizard community , spatial niche, temporal niche , trophic niche , guilds , diversity

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 3-2
Location: GEO - SUB
Time: 3:30

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