John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Direct and indirect effects of petroleum production activities on the Western Fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) as a surrogate for the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus)

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The dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) is a habitat specialist of conservation concern limited to shin oak sand dune systems of New Mexico and Texas. Because much of the dunes sagebrush lizard's habitat occurs in areas of high oil and gas production, there may be direct and indirect effects of these activities. We used the congeneric Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis) as a surrogate species to determine direct effects of 2 contaminants associated with oil and gas drilling activities in the Permian Basin: herbicide formulations (Krovar and Quest) and hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). We exposed lizards to 2 concentrations of H2S (30 or 90 ppm) and herbicide formulations (1x or 2x label application rate) representing high‐end exposure scenarios. We evaluated sublethal behavioral endpoints including sprint speed and time to prey detection and capture. Neither H2S nor herbicide formulations caused significant behavioral effects compared to controls. In order to understand potential indirect effects of oil and gas drilling on the prey base, we quantified terrestrial invertebrate biomass and order diversity at impacted sites to compare to non‐impacted sites. We found a significant decrease in biomass at impacted sites, but no significant effects on diversity. Our results suggest little risk from direct toxic effects, but the potential for indirect effects should be further explored. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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