Working with New Zealand's Lizards
Let’s talk about lizards!
It is coming to that time of year where earthworks start up again, bringing with it the various consent conditions for lizard management. As a budding ecologist, recently joining Ecology New Zealand (ENZL), I have learned so much about lizard salvaging since starting at ENZL. It might help that my mentors, Simon Chapman and Marc Choromanski, are some of the leading herpetologists in New Zealand! With over 25 years between them working on a host of projects, from small-scale, two-lot subdivisions through to 10 year biodiversity monitoring programmes for councils. There is a wealth of knowledge that they bring to every project, which furthers my professional development.
As Auckland becomes more and more developed, lizard salvaging becomes a higher priority. Auckland Council has recognised this through new ecological resource consent conditions. When native vegetation is being cleared, consent conditions allow ecological mitigation through surveying and relocation of native skinks and geckos while the vegetation removal is actually happening. During any earthworks, within potentially suitable habitat, including rank dense grass growth, a skink salvage will need to be undertaken using ACOs (artificial cover objects).
Auckland green gecko (Naultinus elegans) in its stunning yellow morph
During my first week with ENZL, I had the pleasure of relocating a rare yellow-morph elegant gecko (Naultinus elegans) out of a small development’s vegetation clearance zone in northern Auckland during a lizard salvage. One of the coolest parts of this experience was showing the landowner and the arborists our exciting find, and hopefully connecting them with the environmental side of the project. Since New Zealand has one of the highest lizard diversities in the world, it is inspiring to be able to protect its taonga while also contributing to sustainable development. It also makes for a great little competition within the team, as we compete to work with them all.
Simon Chapman showing the vivid colouration of west coast green gecko (Naultinus tuberculatus)