About lizards and unmanned aerial vehicles: assessing home range and habitat selection in Lacerta agilis
Understanding animal space use and habitat needs is a vital requirement for effective conservation and management measures. Considering the multiple instances in which landscapes are anthropogenically altered, it becomes increasingly important to understand what the spatial requirements of an animal are. However, smaller animals, like lizards, require finer-scale assessments, which cannot always be easily made. Therefore, we calculated home ranges of Lacerta agilis using data collected by radio tracking. We then studied microhabitat preference using high-resolution maps generated from photographs taken by unmanned aerial vehicles. Overall, lizards in the selected area seem to favour home ranges that include blackberry brush while avoiding high vegetation and sand. They use other structures according to individual preferences or unstudied factors. Our study portrays an efficient method with high spatial resolution to assess small-vertebrate habitat preferences, which can in turn be used in planning population-specific habitat management or compensatory measures.