|SREL Reprint #1900|
Functional and Population Responses of the Lizard Cnemidophorus tigris
to Environmental Fluctuations
Synopsis. An understanding of the ecology of a species depends upon knowing the effects of an
array of biotic and abiotic environmental variations on individuals. Population patterns are
determined by the collective responses of individuals to environmental variation. Moreover, each
individual, age class, size class, and both sexes may have a unique array of abilities. Therefore, it
should be an imperative to focus on autecology as a mechanistic foundation of population and
community ecology and conservation biology. The autecology of the western whiptail lizard,
Cnemidophorus tigris (Teiidae)-an abundant and tractable species-was examined in the Sonoran
desert of southern California for eight years. Spring-to-summer changes in the spatial and temporal
patterns of foraging in adult C. tigris were related to arthropod distribution and abundance.
Moreover, year-to-year variation in rainfall and plant productivity influenced (1) arthropod
abundance and (2) the patterns of behavior, growth, and reproduction of C tigris. Changes in the
population size of C tigris also were closely related to environmental variation. The perspective of a
multi-year study may provide enough knowledge of a species to enable one to anticipate and
perhaps, obviate the consequences of impending anthropogenic disturbance for that species, other
members of the biological community, and its congeners in other biological communities.
SREL Reprint #1900
Anderson, R.A. 1994. Functional and population responses of the lizard Cnemidophorus tigris to environmental fluctuations. American Zoologist 34:409-421.