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Anniella pulchra

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA ANNIELLIDAE

Scientific Name: Anniella pulchra
Species Authority: Gray, 1852
Common Name(s):
English Black Legless Lizard
Taxonomic Notes: A proposed change in the specific name from pulchra to nigra (Hunt 1983) was rejected by most herpetologists (see Murphy and Smith 1985, 1991; Ballinger et al. 1992; Jennings et al. 1992); 1993 rulings by the ICZN conserved the name Anniella pulchra for this species and placed the name argentea (as published in the trinomen Anniella nigra argentea, on the list of rejected and invalid names.

Phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA data clearly separates Anniella pulchra into distinct northern and southern clades, but these clades do not correspond with the currently recognized black and silver subspecies (Pearse and Pogson 2000). The analyses strongly indicate that the two disjunct populations of A. p. nigra are not monophyletic; they "may have arisen independently from different ancestral populations in a parallel evolutionary repsonse to selection in cool, coastal habitats" (Pearse and Pogson 2000).

Molecular data support recognition of the family Anniellidae as a monophyletic group (Macey et al. 1999).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Hollingsworth, B. & Hammerson, G.A.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This lizard has a spotty distribution in California (United States) and northwestern Baja California (Mexico), extending from near Antioch, California, south in the Coast Ranges, Transverse Mountains, and Peninsular Ranges, and along the coast of southern California, to Arroyo Pabellon, northwestern Baja California (Stebbins 2003), and inland in Baja California to at least La Rumarosa north of the Sierra Juarez (Hunt 1983, Grismer 2002). Scattered occurrences exist elsewhere in California, including the following: San Joaquin Valley; southern Sierra Nevada; Walker Basin; Ninemile Canyon; Paiute, Scodie, and Tehachapi mountains; desert-edge localities at the eastern end of Walker Pass in Kern County, Morongo Valley in San Bernardino County, Little San Bernardino Mountains at Whitewater in Riverside County, and the eastern slope of the Peninsular Ranges; and the Antelope Valley in the extreme western Mojave Desert (Stebbins 2003). The species also occurs on Los Coronados (Norte and Sur) and Todos Santos islands in Baja California. There are old records from Marin County and Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area, California (Stebbins 2003). Its elevational range extends from sea level to about 5,100 feet (1,550 m) (Stebbins 1985). See spot map in Hunt (1983).
Countries:
Native:
Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Jennings and Hayes (1994) mapped several dozen localities in California with extant populations; probably this translates to fewer than 100 distinct occurrences, plus a lesser number in northwestern Baja California. The total adult population size is uncertain but is probably at least 10,000. The species has been eliminated from probably about 20% of its historical range in California (Jennings and Hayes 1994).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This legless lizard burrows in loose soil, especially in semi-stabilized sand dunes and in other areas with sandy soil, including habitats vegetated with oak or pine-oak woodland, or chaparral; it also occurs along wooded stream edges, and occasionally in desert-scrub (Hunt 1983, Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003). Bush lupine and mock heather often are present in suitable dune habitats (Stebbins 2003). The species is often found in leaf litter or under rocks, logs, or driftwood.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species has been exterminated from much of southern California as a result of urbanization and agricultural development (Jennings and Hayes 1994). These factors have fragmented the habitat. Excessive human recreational use and invasive alien plants (e.g., ice plant) may degrade the habitat of coastal dune populations. Other activities that have detrimentally affected populations include sand mining, golf course construction, and off-road vehicle use (Stebbins 2003). In parts of California there is now better conservation of the remaining dunes. In Baja California, the population is being negatively impacted by urbanization between Tijuana and Ensenada.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protected habitats exist in California in Asilomar State Beach, Carrizo Plain Preserve, Morro Bay State Park, Point Dume State Park (Jennings and Hayes 1994). The species also receives some protection on Pendleton Marine Corps Base and Vandenberg Air Force Base. In general, its coastal sand dune habitat is now better conserved in the United States.

Citation: Hollingsworth, B. & Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Anniella pulchra. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 October 2014.
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