Quantifying the ecological role of surface rocks on reptile conservation in agricultural landscapes

Surface rocks provide critical habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals. Despite this, surface rocks are still routinely cleared in agricultural landscapes, and there is limited quantitative evidence describing the use of surface rock by biodiversity and its conservation significance. Preliminary evidence suggests that the restoration of surface rock habitat can improve conservation outcomes for reptiles. My research aims to experimentally quantify the response of reptiles to surface rock addition and grazing exclusion in agricultural landscapes in NSW. The findings of this study have direct management implications for landholders, community groups and governing bodies. This project aims to provide a new outlook on what constitutes sustainable farming practices and effective restoration in agricultural landscapes. On a larger scale, the project has a broad application to inform government regulations on surface rock removal and management, national offset strategies for loss of rock habitat and future ecological restoration programs.