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Sceloporus arenicolus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA PHRYNOSOMATIDAE

Scientific Name: Sceloporus arenicolus
Species Authority: Degenhardt & Jones, 1972
Common Name(s):
English Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, Sand Dune Lizard
Taxonomic Notes: This species formerly was regarded as a subspecies of Sceloporus graciosus (see Degenhardt et al. 1996). The specific name was misspelled "arenicolous" in the original description.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable because its area of occupancy is probably less than 2,000 km², its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is continuing decline in its area of occupancy, in the extent and quality of its habitat, in the number of locations, and in the number of mature individuals.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is restricted to a small area in the southern United States. It occurs in localized populations chiefly on the Mescalero Sands in southeastern New Mexico and Monahan Sandhills in adjacent Texas (Andrews, Crane, Gaines, Ward, and Winkler counties) (Degenhardt et al. 1996, Dixon 2000, Painter 2004). The elevational range extends from around 780 to 1,400 m (2,550 to 4,595 feet) (Painter 2004). The extent of occurrence is 2,312 sq. km in New Mexico, plus a smaller area in Texas. In New Mexico, potential and occupied habitat consists of 1,697 sq. km (655 sq. miles). The area of occupancy in Texas is much smaller than in New Mexico.
Countries:
Native:
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Degenhardt et al. (1996) mapped a dense array of 46 collection sites in New Mexico. Dixon (2000) stated that this lizard occurs in four counties in Texas. Painter (2004) showed the expected distribution in New Mexico as consisting of one large area and three disjunct smaller ones; each area includes a few to many sites where the species occurs. The total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 10,000 and probably exceeds 100,000 (based on at least 1,500 sq. kilometres of occupied habitat and a very conservative estimation of at least one adult per hectare). This species is fairly common in suitable habitat (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). This species is fairly common in suitable habitat (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). Habitat alteration has caused the decrease or extirpation of some populations, but the level of decline is not precisely known (Painter 2004).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This lizard occurs in the vicinity of active and semi-stabilized sand dunes; vegetation consists of scattered stands of Quercus havardii and Artemisia filifolia; it tends to occur in greatest abundance in areas where the lizard Uta stansburiana is scarce; it seeks shelter in burrows, under leaf litter, or by burrowing into loose sand (Degenhardt et al. 1996, Bartlett and Bartlett 1999, Stebbins 2003). The lizard is absent where blow-outs, topographic relief, or shin-oak are lacking
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Large-scale habitat destruction is the major threat to the continued existence of S. arenicolus in southeastern New Mexico (Painter 2004). Widespread use of herbicide for shinnery oak control and activities associated with oil/gas extraction have the greatest potential to cause significant Sand Dune Lizard population extinction or reduction (Peterson and Boyd 1998, Painter 2004). The short-term effect of these activities is lizard population decline resulting from development of a grassland habitat that is unsuitable for the lizard (unless this new habitat retains large blowouts, in which case it is capable of supporting very small populations of Sceloporus arenicolus for at least ten years after treatment; e.g., see Snell et al. 1993, Gorum et. al., 1995). The long-term effect of these habitat modifications is unknown, but increased habitat fragmentation results in increased probability of extinction of individual populations (Painter 2004). In the mid-1990s, the BLM Roswell Resource Area placed a moratorium on chemical treatment of shinnery oak - sand dune habitat. However, the long-term future of this moratorium is uncertain. Other activities with the potential for habitat destruction (i.e., ORV use, livestock grazing, and fire) have been little studied or are considered of lesser importance (Painter 2004).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In New Mexico, large populations occur on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and important populations occur in New Mexico on state and private lands as well (Painter 2004). See Painter (2004) for management recommendations. Elimination or reduction of shinnery oak removal is an important conservation need.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Sceloporus arenicolus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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