brink of extinction and through management and protection they’ve rebounded to the point that Missouri has remained one of the leading states in turkey numbers and harvest,” Mills said. “Peck Ranch was instrumental in the state’s success in restoration efforts through trapping and relocating—but also through woodland habitat management.”
The Glade and its Collared Lizards
A stark difference from the woodland habitat on Peck Ranch is the open glade. Glades are open rocky areas with thin soil that support a variety of sun-loving plants and animals. Ozark glades boast some plants that adapted to hot dry conditions, such as little bluestem, blazing star, dittany, pale purple coneflower, Indian paintbrush, prickly pear cactus, Missouri primrose and acres of rock-covering lichens.
The open landscape, with its sun warmed rocks and glade-loving plants, creates the perfect habitat for Missouri’s dry-adapted animals. Ozark glades have tarantulas, striped scorpions, lichen grasshoppers and, a star among reptiles, the eastern collared lizard.
These lizards are relatively big, colorful and full of character, according to Natural History Biologist Rhonda Rimer.
“Their bright colors are an indicator that they’re visual hunters and defenders of territory, so they certainly like the open glades,” Rimer said.
But Missouri’s collared lizards didn’t always have it easy, according to Houf. In 1982, a collared lizard survey was conducted on Peck Ranch. When no evidence of collared lizards could be found, a management plan was developed that included prescribed fires and clearing on the glades. Twenty-eight lizards were reintroduced between 1984 and 1989 on three of Stegall Mountain’s glade areas. But Houf said about 10 years from the beginning of the release the lizards were surviving but not colonizing new glades.
Biologists discovered that the forest areas between glades were a barrier to the lizards, so they incorporated glade burns into landscape burns (a landscape burn is 500–5,500 acres) to provide better habitat. Though Missouri’s native trees have value in the right place, their shading of the glade cooled the rocks and made it hard for near-desert-adapted species such as the lizards. Cutting cedars and conducting prescribed fires opened up the glade and made life easier for collared lizards.
“After one of the first burns in 1994, lizards colonized 13 glades and in 1996, after an even larger burn, 32 glades were colonized,” Houf said.
Management of the glade spurred the growth of lizard populations and helped them recover from the lulls during the