Lizard Life at Pathfinder
In August of 2017, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) completed lizard visual encounter surveys in five locations and setup one drift fence and funnel trap array on the Pathfinder Ranch. Two species of lizards were detected during four out of the five visual encounter surveys, and at the trap array location. Northern Sagebrush Lizards (Sceloporus graciosus) were the most common species with 26 individuals observed across all surveys, including one juvenile lizard. Four Greater Short-horned Lizards (Phrynosoma hernandesi) were also observed during surveys including adults, sub-adults, and juveniles.
Above: An adult Northern Sagebrush Lizard
Below: An adult Greater Short-horned Lizard
The habitats that we surveyed ranged from sandy soils with sagebrush and yucca, to rocky outcrops with juniper and pine. Northern Sagebrush Lizards and Greater Short-horned Lizards were also observed during other surveys completed in the general region of Pathfinder Reservoir. Visual encounter surveys involved visually searching potential habitat for lizards and documenting any individuals observed as well as microhabitat characteristics of the locations where they were observed. When possible, lizards are captured using a noose or by hand so that morphometric measurements could be collected.
Trap arrays consisted of a sturdy drift fence made of black plastic pet screening with the bottom buried just beneath the ground surface. Three sections of drift fence were typically set up in a Y array with the three arms stretching approximately 40 ft (12 m) in different directions (Bury and Corn 1987). The WGFD placed three pairs of funnel traps along each arm of the array and trap arrays were left out for 3 to 6 nights and checked daily unless weather was a concern (e.g. hot temperatures), in which case they were checked twice a day. Pathfinder Ranches extends our thanks to Julia Polasik, Herpetologist with the WGFD, for her efforts in lizard trapping.