Ferreira CC, Santos X, Carretero MA
Reptiles are sensitive to habitat disturbance induced by wildfires, but some species frequently show opposing responses. The functional causes of such variability have been scarcely explored. In the northernmost limit of the Mediterranean bioregion, a lizard species of Mediterranean affinity (Psammodromus algirus and Podarcis guadarramae) increase in abundance in burnt areas whereas Atlantic species (Lacerta schreiberi and Podarcis bocagei) decrease. Timon lepidus, the largest Mediterranean lizard in the region, shows mixed responses depending on the locality and fire history. We tested whether such interspecific differences are of a functional nature; namely, if ecophysiological traits may determine lizard response to fire. Based on the variation in habitat structure between burnt and unburnt sites, we hypothesise that the Mediterranean species, which increase density in open habitats promoted by frequent fire regimes, should be more thermophile and suffer lower water losses than Atlantic species.