The Blue Mountains Water Skink

The endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink, Eulamprus leuraensis (photo: “Sarshag7”)

I have previously mentioned my interest in ecological niche modelling and amphibians. The cute little skink above, native to the Blue Mountains near Sydney, is sadly endangered. The black circles in the map below show online occurrence records for the skink. These range in altitude from approximately 530 to 1,170 m.

The blue area shows a predicted potential range for the species, based on MaxEnt modelling using those occurrence records and BioClim climate data. The model does not take into account the skink’s need for sedge and shrub swamps with permanently wet boggy soils – there are readily available online land cover datasets, but these have insufficient spatial resolution to identify the 30 or so swamps in which the skink is found. The predicted potential range for the skink is consequently very much exaggerated, and covers 1,320 sq km, of which 63% falls within national parks or other protected areas. Hopefully that is enough to stop this beautiful amphibian from becoming extinct, although it continues to face threats from urban sprawl, feral cats, and vegetation changes.

4 thoughts on “The Blue Mountains Water Skink

  1. Hi, that’s an amazing post. Have the results of this MaxEnt modelling been published somewhere? I’m trying to incorporate the microclimate into the modelling of this beauty and would like to compare my results with this.

    • Well,, no, they haven’t been published (other than here). Partly because it’s a substantial over-prediction of range, and I never got my hands on additional data good enough to refine the results. The data I used is all linked, though.

      • Well, thanks for your answer. I’m also having a hard time finding reasonable data.

      • Yeah, the model really needs accurate land cover data.

        I can email you a CSV of the location data I used, if that will help.

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