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Aspidoscelis burti

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA TEIIDAE

Scientific Name: Aspidoscelis burti
Species Authority: (Taylor, 1938)
Common Name(s):
English Canyon Spotted Whiptail
Synonym(s):
Cnemidophorus burti Taylor, 1938
Taxonomic Notes: Reeder et al. (2002) examined phylogenetic relationships of the whiptail lizards of the genus Cnemidophorus based on a combined analysis of mitochondrial DNA, morphology, and allozymes. They determined that Cnemidophorus in the traditional sense is paraphyletic and thus in need of nomenclatural revision. Rather than subsume all cnemidophorine species (including Kentropyx) in a single large genus (Ameiva), they proposed a split that placed the North American "Cnemidophorus" clade in the monophyletic genus Aspidoscelis; under this arrangement, South American taxa remain in the genus Cnemidophorus.

The subspecies xanthonota - generally treated as a subspecies of A. burti (e.g., Wright and Lowe 1993) - was proposed as a distinct species by Collins (1991). No supporting data were presented; the proposed split was based on presumed allopatry and diagnosability. Crother et al. (2000) followed Collins and listed xanthonota as a species distinct from A. burti. Under the genus Cnemidophorus, Stebbins (2003) retained xanthonota as a subspecies of A. burti. We also retain xanthonota within burti, pending clarification of its status. It is unclear whether or not the populations of this species around Guaymas (A. burti burti) are conspecific with A. burti stictogrammus (D. Frost pers. comm.). The populations in the south of the range are A. burti griseocaphalus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Hammerson, G.A., Frost, D.R. & Gadsden, H.
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 species occurs in northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States. Its patchy distribution extends from southern Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico south through Sonora into northern Sinaloa, Mexico (Stebbins 2003). In New Mexico, the species has been found only in Guadalupe Canyon, Hildago County, at 1,321 to 1,387 m (Degenhardt et al. 1996); an unsubstantiated report exists for the Alamo Hueco Mountains, Hildago County (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 1997). Its Arizona range includes Cochise, Pinal, and Pima counties (Arizona Game and Fish Department 1997). The subspecies Aspidoscelis burti xanthonota in central southern Arizona is probably isolated from other subpopulations of this species.
Countries:
Native:
Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: At least several occurrences are extant in Arizona. In New Mexico, this species has been documented in one canyon and unsubstantiated reports exist for a couple additional locations (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish 1985; Degenhardt et al. 1996). More than 100 occupied sites probably exist in Sonora, Mexico, with 85% of the occurrences in good condition; extensively surveyed in 1995 (A. Villareal Lazarraga pers. comm. 1998). The total adult population size is unknown but is certainly many thousands. The species can be common even at the periphery of the range. For example, 159 individuals were collected during 1992-1994 surveys in Guadalupe Canyon, New Mexico (Degenhardt et al. 1996). Specific population trend information is not available, but populations appear to be stable. According to J. Rorabaugh (pers. comm. 1998), the United States populations show no evidence of decline. The Guadalupe Canyon population, New Mexico is considered healthy and stable. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (1997) indicates that Arizona populations are apparently stable. The species is regarded as stable in Sonora, Mexico (A. Villareal Lazarraga pers. comm. 1998), where it is not usually abundant but is consistently present.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This whiptail inhabits mountain canyons, arroyos (dry creeks), and mesas in arid and semi-arid regions, entering lowland dry thorn scrub along stream courses; often it occurs in rocky areas or among dense shrubs near streams (Stebbins 2003). In New Mexico, it occupies riparian zones, either wooded with sycamore, cottonwood, and ash, or with bunch grasses (Degenhardt et al. 1996). Eggs are laid probably in nests dug in soil/underground.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overall, this species is currently not threatened. Locally, potential threats include habitat alteration and overcollecting. Due to limited habitat, the population in New Mexico could be impacted by uncontrolled wildfire or overgrazing of riparian vegetation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It presumably occurs in some protected areas. Other than general research, no direct conservation measures are currently needed for this species.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A., Frost, D.R. & Gadsden, H. 2007. Aspidoscelis burti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 November 2014.
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