Community Ecology of Scincid Lizards in a Swamp Rainforest of South-Eastern Nigeria

Godfrey C. Akani, Dario Capizzi, Luca Luiselli


Diets, activity patterns, habitat use, and the role of predation, were studied in a community of terrestrial lizards (Mabuya affinis, Mabuya maculilabris, Mochlus fernandii: Scincidae) from a swamp lowland rainforest in south-eastern Nigeria. Mochlus fernandii was the largest species, whereas the two Mabuya were very similar in terms of body size. There was no significant sexual size dimorphism in any of the species, but males of Mochlus fernandii tended to be larger than females. Niche breadths varied significantly between species, with M. fernandii specimens showing the widest niche breadth values. Moreover, the intersexual differences in diet composition were significant in all the species. The size of the lizards influenced the type of prey eaten. Mochlus fernandii occasionally preyed on the two Mabuya species, and M. affinis also fed upon fruits and plants. The diets of the three species were clearly separated. The highest dietary similarity occurred between Mochlus fernandii and M. maculilabris, and the lowest similarity occurred between Mochlus fernandii and M. affinis. All three species exhibited a bimodal activity pattern (first peak: 08.00 – 10.00, second peak: 16.00 – 18.00), and did not differ significantly between species. Mochlus fernandii was less abundant than the two Mabuya in suburban habitats, but the interspecific differences in habitat characteristics were minor. Based on the frequency of tail loss, predation risk was high for all lizards in this community. Snakes are most likely the main predators.


Scincidae; community ecology; intra-specific competition; inter-specific competition; activity; diet; rainforest; Nigeria

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