Resource distribution among and within habitats affects the abundance, richness and composition of communities. Yet, the role of resource distribution on species interactions is rarely studied. Generalist predators have the ability to survive extreme conditions by using a variety of foods that allows the population to grow during times of low food availability. Most lizard species are generalist predators, including those of the genus Uromastyx which are mainly herbivores but consume a large variety of plants. To date very few quantitative studies exist on the food and feeding habits of the spiny-tailed lizard worldwide.

The aims of this study are 1) to identify the diet of the lizard Uromastyx aegyptia microlepis, one of the biodiversity flagship species as well as of cultural relevance for Qatar, 2) to report the first data available on the plants consumed by this lizard in Qatar, 3) to help translocation programs directed to the conservation of this species in Qatar.

We examined 371 faecal samples that were collected between March and April 2010 in the Al-Kharrara desert in the south of Qatar. Our results show that in a single month these lizards consumed 34 different plant taxa belonging to at least 17 families, 29 genera and 18 species. Plant diversity was high with up to 19 different taxa found in one single faeces. Animal remains were also found in 26 % of the faeces. We explored the effect of faeces size, sampling day and study zone on the diversity of plants consumed by the lizards and found that all three variables were significantly correlated with plant diversity. Lizards consumed 31% of the plants present in the study area, suggesting that some plants are likely preferred or that grazing-impact by ungulates may affect food availability for lizard populations.

Competition between livestock and native herbivores is a global environmental problem, and livestock management should be implemented for the conservation of native vegetation in Qatar. Conservation efforts in Qatar are constrained by a lack of basic data on the distribution, abundance and population dynamics for nearly all species, and more scientific contributions are needed in the near future.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error