New populations found of the cryptic Eared Worm-lizard
Cath has sent through this summary of her trip with community members to Eared Worm-lizard sites last weekend – with some great news to report …
Last Sunday the Millicent Field Naturalists, Friends of Mount Gambier Parks and other community members joined Mark Hutchinson (SA Museum), Bryan Haywood (ForestrySA) and I to resurvey the new tile grids that we had laid together in April in an effort to find more populations of our elusive Eared Worm-lizard (Aprasia aurita). As you might remember from previous blogs, this cryptic little lizard was only known from six sites in the Reedy Creek Range of South Australia, which are outlying populations from the first known population in the Victorian mallee. To find out more about the Eared Worm-lizard, go to the project page at http://natureglenelg.org.au/case-studies/eared-worm-lizard-research-project/ .
On Sunday we were rewarded with the capture of a large number of Eared Worm-lizards and, in some fantastic news, the identification of two new population sites, bringing the total number of identified sites in South Australia to eight! Two individuals were caught at one new site and the second population was identified by a slough (shed skin) that has been left behind by another individual. It is possible to positively identify the presence of the Eared Worm-lizard by its slough as it has a scale count of 14 in comparison to the closely related Striped Worm-lizard, which has a lower scale count of 12. The new populations continue to show no consistent trend in the habitat of the lizard of South Australia, with the new individuals caught in a dry Cutting Grass swamp.
During the Sunday survey, Eared Worm-lizards were also captured in abundance at a site where previously only sloughs had been recorded and at another site where there had been no records for six years.
Other species caught during the day included Three-lined Skink, Pale-flecked Morethia, Bougainville’s skink, Eastern Striped Skink, Southern Grass Skink, Common Garden Skin, Brown Snakes and a Tiger Snake, capping off a fantastic reptile survey day. A big thank you to all the enthusiastic people who came and helped out during the day, your enthusiasm has contributed to the identification of new population site locations and important knowledge for helping us to better understand this enigmatic species!
We would still love to hear from you if you think you have seen this elusive lizard or would like to be involved. There is more background information on the Eared Worm-lizard’s project page and if you have any questions or a sighting please contact me, Cath Dickson.