The influence of urbanization on the behaviour of an Australian lizard and the presence of an activity-exploratory behavioural syndrome

H Moule, M Michelangeli, M B Thompson, D G Chapple

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Urbanization is rapidly converting natural landscapes into habitats dominated by man-made structures. Urbanized areas possess a range of novel stressors such as increased human disturbance, different suites of predators, new food types and altered habitats and complexity. Species may need to adjust aspects of their behaviour to cope with these novel stressors and persist in areas following urbanization. Sydney, Australia's largest city, has undergone rapid population and geographic expansion over two centuries, but remains a mosaic of natural and heavily urbanized habitats. We adopted a behavioural syndrome approach to investigate whether urbanization has influenced the behaviour of the delicate skink Lampropholis delicata in the Sydney region. Lizards from one of the urban populations were more active, and more likely to forage for food, than individuals from the other three populations, but there was no difference in activity or foraging behaviour between urban and non-urban populations overall. Skinks from urban and non-urban habitats did not differ in their exploratory or basking behaviours. Activity, exploratory behaviour and foraging behaviour were all repeatable, and a behavioural syndrome linking high activity with increased exploration was evident. Our study documents the impact of urbanization on an understudied taxonomic group in the Southern Hemisphere, where urbanization has occurred relatively recently, and suggests that the influence on behaviour might be related to the degree of urbanization that has occurred.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Activity
  • Basking site selection
  • Behavioural syndromes
  • Exploratory behaviour
  • Lizard
  • Urbanization

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