Ecology (Stanište; Životni ciklus, sezonska i dnevna aktivnost; Ishrana; Slične vrste

Dinarolacerta lizards occur in rocky karst areas at higher altitudes of Mediterranean influence (oromediterranean), sporadically entering inland regions, where suitable habitats exist (up to 90 km in Montenegro) (Bischoff, 1984). Their habitats are exposed to very long, cold, snowy winters, very humid autumns and springs, and hot, dry summers with extreme daytime and night-time temperature changes (between 3 °C and 25 °C) (Matvejev, 1961). As typical petricol species, they are often found on limestone outcrops and rocks in relatively moist and fresh habitats with quite rich vegetation. They often occur around mountain lakes in open deciduous, mixed or coniferous forests (such as in plant communities of subendemo-relic pine of the Balkans - Pinus heldreichii), in degraded woods as well as above the tree-line (Arnold & Ovenden, 2002; Džukić, 1991; Džukić et al., 1997; Ljubisavljević et al., 2007a).
Dinarolacerta lizards are well-adapted to the life in rocky areas and harsh conditions in mountain environments thanks to their specific morphological and ecological traits. A flattened morphology and smooth scales fit their crevice dwelling. They take refuge in narrow crevices, skillfully escaping from predators, such as – Nose-horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) and Smooth-snake (Coronella austriaca) (Bosch, 1989; Veith, 1991).
Life history, annual and daily activity patterns
Data on life-history traits of Dinarolacerta were based on the studies of the Mosor rock lizard from Montenegro (Ljubisavljević et al., 2007b; Tomašević Kolarov et al., 2010), while the Prokletije rock lizard is an unexplored species. The individuals of the Mosor rock lizard become sexually mature upon attaining a minimum body size, rather than a minimum age, as has been suggested for other lacertid lizard species (Ljubisavljević i et al., 2007b). However, very long, cold, snowy winters cause short activity period and limited annual growth rate and therefore delayed age of maturation relative to small lacertids that live under more favorable conditions. Both sexes reach maturity at 3 years, with a trunk length of 5,3 and 5,7 cm for males and females, respectively (Tomašević-Kolarov et al., 2010).
Due to unfavourable climatic conditions in mountain environments, the Mosor rock lizard emerge from hibernation in late April or the beginning of May which is later than in other species from the region (Sharp-snouted rock lizard – Dalmatolacerta oxycephala and Common wall lizard - Podarcis muralis) that are separated altitudinally. Mating takes place between the end of May and the beginning of June. The females produce a single clutch conditioned by the shortened period of annual and reproductive activity. The clutch is laid in July containing 3-7 eggs ( 4-5 eggs in average) (Ljubisavljević et al., 2007b). The incubation period averages 26 days at temperatures between 25 – 28°, which is shorter than in other oviparous lacertids (Ljubisavljević et al., 2007b). Short incubation period is related to the fact that eggs were laid in an advanced stage of embryonic development due to prolonged oviductal egg retention which presents a shift towards viviparity. Clutches hatch in August (Ljubisavljević et al., 2007b). This species goes to hibernation by the end of September or beginning of October. In Lovćen population the modal age was found to be 5 years for males and 6 years for females, while the maximal longevity was found to be 9 years in both sexes (Tomašević Kolarov et al., 2010). Juveniles have lower survival rates than adults (Tomašević Kolarov et al., 2010).
As other lacertids, the Mosor rock lizard is a diurnal and heliothermic species. However very little is known regarding its daily activity patterns. There are some observations that it is more active in the morning than in the afternoon and that may be active during the fresh and cloudy days in summer and early autumn at sheltered places (Veith, 1991).
The Mosor rock lizard has been seen to feed on woodlice (Isoptera) (Veith, 1991), caddisflies (Trichoptera) (Radovanović, 1951) and dragonflies (Odonata) (Džukić, 1991). Arnold (1987) gave somewhat more detailed data on diet composition. He found that 44 % of diet was composed of the strongly flying insects (Diptera, Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera), most often up to 10 mm in length.
Similar species
In the lower parts of the distribution area the Mosor rock lizard is found in slimilar habitats together with the other two petricol species - Sharp-snouted rock lizard (Dalmatolacerta oxycephala) and Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis). The Sharp-snouted rock lizard has also flattened body, while the Common wall lizard is less flattened, has higher and shorter head than the Mosor rock lizard and its belly is rarely yellow (Arnold & Ovenden, 2002). In these cases there is a clear spatial separation, with the Mosor rock lizard occuring in less sunny, more humid and vegetated places than the mentioned species (Tomassini, 1889; Bischoff, 1984; Arnold, 1987). Also, the Mosor rock lizard does not climb so high above the ground as the Sharp-snouted rock lizard (Arnold, 1987). At high altitudes the Mosor rock lizard is more competitive due to better adaptations to cold environments (Mauruschat et al., 1990; Arnold, 1987). The Prokletije rock lizard shares the habitat with the Common wall lizard (Džukić et al., 1997).