In the Shadow of an Iconic Inselberg: Uluru's shadow Influences Climates and Reptile Assemblage Structure at its Base

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Uluru is the more famous of the two namesake inselbergs found in Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park (UKTNP). Uluru is roughly 10 km around its base, stands nearly 350 m tall, and can cast a shadow more than a kilometre long during the early morning and late afternoon hours. Additionally, there are many areas near the base of Uluru that receive nearly continuous shade throughout the day, which may also mean that these places could be buffered against extreme temperatures. This study investigated Uluru's influence on the climate at various distances from its base, and simultaneously assessed if the structure of the reptile community was related to the observed climatic variation. We used iButton data loggers to record the temperature and relative humidity at 26 sample locations surrounding Uluru. We used ArcGIS to map the path of Uluru's shadow and to determine when and how long data loggers recorded in and out of Uluru's shading influence. We found that the temperature and relative humidity were strongly influenced by Uluru's shadow, and that reptile assemblages were strongly correlated with the amount of time a sampled site was influenced by Uluru's shadow.