Gymnophthalmus pleii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Gymnophthalmidae

Scientific Name: Gymnophthalmus pleii Bocourt, 1881
Common Name(s):
English Rough-scaled Worm Lizard
Gymnophthalmus pleei Bocourt, 1881 [orth. error]
Taxonomic Notes: There is some uncertainty concerning the correct spelling of the specific epithet for this species; the Reptile Database uses 'pleei', however, based on the ICZN rules it is argued that the original spelling of 'pleii' is what should be used (R. Powell and M. Breuil pers. comms.).

This species has three subspecies:
G. pleii pleii Bocourt, 1881
G. pleii luetkeni Bocourt, 1881
G. pleii nesydrion Thomas, 1965.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2015-07-22
Assessor(s): Daltry, J.C., Powell, R. & Dewynter, M.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, H.T., Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Powney, G., Hanson, S. & Hedges, B.
Gymnophthalmus pleii has been assessed as Near Threatened, as this species has an area of occupancy below 2,000 km2 and occurs on three major islands and four islets, each considered to represent a single location at potential risk from the impacts of introduced G. underwoodi, as well as localized ongoing threats from habitat loss (which are significant on Saint Lucia). The impacts of this introduced species are, however, not well-understood and there is no known evidence of ongoing decline; should further work confirming that the introduced species has a significant impact on native subpopulations, or that G. underwoodi can successfully colonize xeric habitats from which it presently appears largely absent, will warrant listing this species in a threatened category. The Saint Lucia subpopulations, presently treated as distinct subspecies, are at a high specific risk from habitat conversion.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The nominate form is found on Martinique and the Maria Islands off the coast of Saint Lucia (being replaced on the southernmost by Gymnophthalmus pleii nesydrion) (Schwartz and Henderson 1991). The subspecies G. p. leutkeni occurs on Saint Lucia [aka G. p. luetkeni]. It has also been found on two other satellites of Saint Lucia, Rat and Praslin Islands, but these have not been assigned to subspecies. The species also occurs on Dominica; these subpopulations have not been assigned to subspecies. The combined land area of these islands is 1,837 km². This species is found between sea level and 400 m above sea level. The species is very patchily distributed on Saint Lucia, but in the small patches where it occurs it can be common (J. Daltry pers. comm. 2015). It occurs mainly at lower elevations in Martinique, and this is also likely true on Saint Lucia (M. Dewynter and J. Daltry pers. comm. 2015). It occurs below 200 m on Saint Lucia, and below 500 m on Martinique. Its occurrence on Guadeloupe has been reported, however, surveys have failed to record it here and Breuil (2002) considers that this record is in need of confirmation, suggesting that it is likely to represent confusion with G. underwoodi.
Countries occurrence:
Dominica; Martinique; Saint Lucia
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:1837
Number of Locations:7
Upper elevation limit (metres):400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:On Praslin Island the population density was estimated to be 65.5 individuals per ha (Murton 2008). At ten different localities in Cabritz National Park in Dominica, at elevations up to 64 m, densities ranged from 0 to 3,340 individuals per ha in dry, open habitats (Turk et al. 2010). The population is probably stable at present, but there is a danger than invasive Gymnophthalmus underwoodi will adapt to the drier habitats where this species occurs, in which case declines are likely.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in xeric woodlands on the hot slopes adjacent to ruins in Martinique, in sand dunes covered with Terminalia leaves and Coccoloba in Saint Lucia, in banana and cocoa groves, ravines and cultivated areas, and in the northern grasslands and central wooded area of Maria Major (Schwartz and Henderson 1991). It has been found in leaf litter and under rocks (Schwartz and Henderson 1991). This species is most abundant in leaf litter in coastal areas but it is also found in sunny places in mesophilic situations. This species is also common on roadsides that cross dry forests in Martinique (Breuil 2002). On Dominica, the species is restricted to drier areas of the west coast (Daniells et al. 2008)

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is no known use of or trade in this species.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threat to this species is the introduction of Gymnophthalmus underwoodi, which has been proposed as a threat on Martinique (Breuil 2009). This species has also been established on Dominica; this exotic species has not yet been recorded from Saint Lucia, but G. pleei's distribution on this island is fragmentary.  G. pleii is apparently largely excluded from areas with high densities of mongoose and perhaps cane toads, both of which are established on St. Lucia (J. Daltry pers. comm. 2015). The impacts of G. underwoodi on G. pleii have never been documented, however the two species have rarely been found to co-occur and the latter, which is a more generalist, parthenogenic species, is likely to persist at much higher densities than G. pleii (R. Powell pers. comm. 2015).

This species may also be threatened by habitat loss and degradation. On Saint Lucia's northeast coast, where the best-known subpopulation occurs, the entire area of suitable habitat is at risk from planned resort development and associated road-building (J. Daltry pers. comm. 2015). The average annual change in forest cover for the period 1981-1990 has been estimated at -0.6% for Dominica, -0.3% for Guadeloupe, -0.4% for Martinique and -3.8% for St. Lucia (Tole 1998). Although it can survive in areas with open canopies (R. Powell pers. comm. 2015) this species does not persist in cleared areas (J. Daltry and M. Dewynter pers. comm. 2015), and so logging and other pressures that clear forests or plantations will be detrimental to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known species-specific conservation measures in place for this species, however, the Islet Chancel in Martinique is protected by an 'arrêté de protection de biotope'. It is also found in protected areas in Dominica and St. Lucia. Further research of the impact that the spread of Gymnophthalmus underwoodi is having upon the population should be carried out, and population monitoring is recommended. Conservation measures, such as the expansion of protected areas in dry forest, should be carried out to reduce the rate of habitat loss occurring within this species' range, in areas where this is a major pressure. The St. Lucia subspecies are likely to warrant national listings of Endangered.

Citation: Daltry, J.C., Powell, R. & Dewynter, M. 2017. Gymnophthalmus pleii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T178396A71745871. . Downloaded on 26 September 2017.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided