Behaviour 2019
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Personality assessments of Texas horned lizards before reintroduction
Lisa P. Barrett1, Kelsea Anthony1, Samuel J. Eliades2, Cameron D. Siler2, Brad Lock1, Rebecca J. Snyder1. 1Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma City, OK, United States; 2Department of Biology and Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, United States

Recent studies have leveraged knowledge of animal behavior for significant applications as a conservation tool. We explored this idea in a reptile, a generally understudied taxonomic group within conservation behavior. Texas horned lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum) are in decline or extirpated from significant portions of their range, due mainly to habitat loss. We examined whether these lizards have repeatable differences in behavior that could inform future head start programs. In particular we conducted personality assessments (e.g., risk-taking tendency, novel environment exploration, object neophobia, and activity level) on lizards being reared (from eggs collected in Oklahoma) at the Oklahoma City Zoo as part of a novel head start program. Lizards in this study are reared for approximately 21 months (until they weigh 5 g) and then placed in soft-release pens, and monitored and tracked upon reintroduction to the wild. We aim to determine which personality traits predict lizard survival upon release. We present evidence of consistent behavioral responses and discuss how results could inform this program and may be applied to conservation planning initiatives.