Diversity and abundance of pit-trapped reptiles in Australian arid and mesic habitats: Biodiversity for environmental impact assessments
Surrey Beatty & Sons
Faculty of Business and Public Management
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Based on pit-trapping data for reptile assemblages from mesic, semi-arid and arid Australian sites, we examined species richness, diversity and evenness for general patterns. Reptile assemblages in Australian arid and semi-arid areas are generally species rich, have a high diversity, and have a high proportion of species that are rarely caught. Skinks are generally the most abundant taxa, followed by geckos and agamids. Varanids, elapid and blind snakes are less frequently caught, and pygopods are seldom caught in pit-trapping programmes. However, there was considerable variability in the pattern of reptile assemblages across the Australian arid and semi-arid landscape, and even among closely located sites within the same soil and vegetation zones. A high proportion of arid and semi-arid reptile species are rarely caught in pit-traps. Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority's current requirements for assessing the effects of a potential disturbance, which are based on desktop study and small-scale field survey, are inadequate to describe biodiversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, and also in terms of ecosystem function. If the Environmental Protection Authority considers rare species are an important component of the biodiversity of an area, then a greater level of trapping is required for the preparation of an environmental impact assessment than is generally occurring at present.