The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

  • DE
  • EN
  • LS

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Assess Habitat Preferences and Home Range Densities in Sand Lizards



Quick facts

Project title: 
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Assess Habitat Preferences and Home Range Densities in Sand Lizards (Lacerta agilis LINNAEUS, 1758) for High Resolution Landscape Management
ZFMK Project lead: 
Object of research: 
sand lizards, habitat preference, unmanned aereal vehicles, home range densities


Project start: 2017

Establishing an extensive ecological profile of a population is of outmost importance in conservation efforts and landscape management. The sand lizard (Lacerta agilis LINNAEUS, 1758) is a widely spread Eurasian species that prefers open to half-open habitats. This includes areas in close proximity to humans like road and railroad edges or quarries. Therefore, the species is often victim of disturbances, destruction or fragmentation of its habitat and therefore subject to a lot of compensative measures. These measures are most effective when matched to the ecology of the population in question. Hence, the aim of this project is to establish an efficient method to assess ecology of a population of small animals using a sand lizard population in the Dellbrücker Heide in Cologne as an example. For this, classic visual encounter studies are used in concert with radio telemetry to assess home ranges and high resolution drone recordings to assess habitat preference in order to assemble an as complete as possible ecological profile. The profile includes: animal activity in relation to weather and temperature, home range density, and habitat preference. In addition, it is planned to study the possibility of recording lizard populations directly via drone in collaboration with the Deutsche Bahn.
The project consists of one PhD thesis (Vic Clement) and two completed Master theses studying weather dependent activity patterns (Julia Platzen-Edanakaparampil) and habitat preference (Rieke Schluckebier). There are two more Master theses planned concerning more habitat preference and influence of a drone on lizard fleeing behaviour (Lisa Schmitz and Tobias Demand).



Contact person

PhD candidate
+49 228 9122-245
+49 228 9122-212
vicclement [at]