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Title: Effects of oil pollution on the ecology, behaviour and physiology of the sand lizard (Acanthodactylus scutellatus) in Kuwait
Author: Al-Hashem, M. A.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2006
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The effects of oil pollution on a sand lizard (Acanthodactylus scutellatus) were studied throughout 2002 and 2003 at Greater Al-Burgan oil fields in Kuwait. This study examined the effects on this species because large land-based oil spills (such as in Kuwait in 1991) present a new environmental concern. The most unexpected outcome of the study was that assumptions made about the degrees of contamination based on physical evidence (such as soot and tar) were not supported. Field observations included the timing of morning emergence as well as basking and foraging behaviours. These behaviours seemed influenced by oil pollution with lizards on the highly polluted sites emerging earlier than the other sites. The presumably highly polluted sites exhibited the highest substrate temperatures, influencing basking of A. scutellatus. Basking duration decreased as the degree of pollution increased. Foraging behaviour did not differ between the study sites because the lizards continued as a ‘Sit and wait’ predators at all the locations and did not have to increase their foraging. Lizards were examined in the laboratory for their substrate preference. They were monitored using a digital video camera and the times spent on polluted and/or nonpolluted substrates were recorded. Lizards collected from the tar mat sites preferred to remain on the dark substrate whereas those collected from the control sites chose the light substrate. The strength of this response suggests that the behaviour is highly adaptive because possessing this cryptic colouration is essential to avoid predators. Lizard body size and weight were measured and adult lizards were larger on the tar mat and soot sites than on the clear and control sites. Food appeared to be available in greater quantities on the tar mat and soot sites and consuming prey with high levels of fat resulted in lizards accumulating adipose tissue in their bodies. Crude oil contains heavy metal with nickel and vanadium generally being the predominant elements. An attempt was also made to determine if heavy metals in the environment influenced sand lizards. Concentrations of these elements were determined in soil and whole body tissues of lizard using ICP/AES analysis. There was a significant variation in nickel concentration in soil between the control and the soot and tar mat sites. Nickel concentration differed in lizard samples from the control and the tar mat sites. Vanadium concentration in soil differed between the control and the tar mat sites but did not show any difference in lizard tissue between the different study sites.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available