Provide artificial shade for individuals

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of providing artificial shade for individuals on reptile populations. One study was in Australia and one was in Canada.




  • Use (2 studies): One replicated, randomized study in Australia found that shaded, artificial rocky outcrops were used less often than unshaded ones by velvet geckos. One study in Canada found that coverboards were used by northern pacific rattlesnakes in the year they were installed, but not a decade later.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, randomized study in 1994–1995 on a sand plateau in New South Wales, Australia (Webb & Shine 2000) found that reptiles tended to be found less often under artificial rocks (concrete pavers/paving stones) that were artificially shaded with cloth than under unshaded artificial rocks. Velvet geckos Oedura lesueurii used shaded pavers less frequently (9 pavers used by11 individuals) than unshaded pavers (28 pavers used by 45 individuals). One skink Cryptoblepharus virgatus and one broad-headed snake Hoplocephalus bungaroides were recorded in one unshaded paver each, but were not found in unshaded pavers. In November 1994–January 1995, artificial rocks (square concrete pavers: 19 cm wide, 5 cm thick) were placed in groups of four (20 cm apart in a square formation) at three undisturbed rock outcrops (sites >1km apart, 32–52 total pavers/site). Pavers were shaded or unshaded (90 x 50 cm steel frame covered with two layers of shade cloth; unshaded pavers had only steel frames), and were modified with either 4 mm or 8 mm crevices (created by gluing wood to the underside of the pavers). Surveys were attempted six times/site in April–November 1995 (18 total surveys) with reptiles marked with a toe clip. Human disturbance of artificial rocks prevented seven of 18 surveys from being carried out.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A study in 2007–2017 in shrub-steppe desert in the Okanagan Valley, Canada (2) found that coverboards provided as artificial shade after the installation of an exclusion fence were used by northern pacific rattlesnakes Crotaus oreganus oreganus in the year after the fence was installed, but there was no evidence that they were used 10 years later. Coverboards to provide shade during high temperatures were used by nine northern pacific rattlesnakes in the year they were installed. Nine to 10 years later, no snakes were found under the coverboards although 116 live snakes (northern pacific rattlesnake, great basin gophersnake Pituophis catenifer deserticola, and western yellow-bellied racer Coluber constrictor mormon) were captured along an adjacent exclusion fence over the same time period. In 2007, wooden coverboards (70 x 70 x 7 cm, 7 cm off the ground with 15–20 cm of sand excavated from underneath) were placed at 12 locations spaced at 30 m intervals along (360 m of) a 4 km long wire mesh snake exclusion fence (installed in 2006) to mitigate snake mortality due to heat exposure. At each interval, two coverboards were placed either side of the fence and one was placed 10–15 m away from the fence in natural habitat. Coverboard use was initially monitored in July 2007, and then monitoring was continued by mark-recapture surveys 5–6 days/week and walking the fence line 2–3 times/week in May–October 2016–2017.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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