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Enrichment of reptile habitat in the Central Chañares area

The enrichment of habitat for reptiles consists of the construction of shelters (clusters of stones) that generate a space of protection in an environment where these types of structures are scarce.

The environmental license of this project established that: “After the completion of the construction work, a habitat enrichment action will be developed, particularly in the surroundings of small hollows and depressions, to favor the presence of environments conducive to reptiles (generation of stone clusters)”.

According to the above, during 2017 45 shelters were built, following the following phases:

  1. Choice of the installation point: The installation of the shelters cannot be random. The installation points were sought according to: areas of sandy substrate with a low presence of rocks, favoring places with the presence of vegetation.
  2. Substrate preparation: 0.8 m3 was excavated in the ground, with a depth between 10 and 20 centimeters
  3. Placement of the rocks: The rocks were arranged in piles, with a maximum height between 30 and 50 centimeters. The rocks were taken from rocky areas in the desert, where there is a high abundance of these elements, therefore no impacts were generated on the local fauna.
  4. Seal: After placing the rocks, with the remaining soil from the preparation of the substrate, the lower part of the refuge was sealed, generating habitable and protected cavities inside.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the measure, 4 semi-annual monitoring were carried out, which allowed to verify a high occupancy (higher than 30% of the shelters) and the presence of 4 species using these structures: Callopistes maculatus (Chilean Iguana), Liolaemus atacamensis (Lizard of Atacama), Liolaemus audituvelatus, (Covered ear dragon) and, Liolaemus platei (Plate lizard). This allows us to conclude that the measure was successful, favoring the establishment of reptiles in the enrichment area.

This successful experience is being replicated in new projects such as the Valle del Sol photovoltaic park.