Lizards that use perches may respond positively to structural features added to the landscape. Here, I describe preliminary observations of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) using dung piles of cattle as perches in an area where cattle were recently introduced in northwestern Utah. During timed surveys along transects, 89% of lizards were located on top of dung piles versus 11% on the ground. Dung piles might be used by lizards for basking or for feeding if invertebrate prey are attracted to dung. However, based on field observations, the best explanation for this behavior is that elevated positions atop dung piles enhance visibility for detection of prey while potentially reducing heat load. These findings support the notion that adding structural elements to the environment might improve habitat quality for certain lizards.
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Vol. 52 • No. 4