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Plestiodon longirostris

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA SCINCIDAE

Scientific Name: Plestiodon longirostris
Species Authority: Cope, 1861
Common Name(s):
English Bermuda Skink
Synonym(s):
Eumeces longirostris (Cope, 1861)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1+2bcde ver 2.3
Year Published: 1996
Date Assessed: 1996-08-01
Annotations:
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Conyers, J. & Wingate, D.
Justification:
Once common throughout Bermuda, skink populations have declined throughout the archipelago (Davenport et al. 2001). Habitat loss has undoubtedly been a major factor over much of the area, but introduced and even reintroduced species have had serious impacts. On islands not impacted by introduced species, there has been significant mortality due to pollution. The last remaining viable subpopulation appears to be the one on Southampton Island which comprises about 400 individuals (Davenport et al. 2001).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Bermuda Rock Skink is the only endemic terrestrial vertebrate on the isolated archipelago of Bermuda. It is a relatively primitive 'relict' species and is identifiable from Pleitocene deposits on Bermuda.
Countries:
Native:
Bermuda
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The largest remaining subpopulation appears to be that on Southampton Island which comprises about 400 individuals (about 240 mature individuals). Other subpopulations include those on Nonsuch Island (23 individuals), Inner Pear Island (52), Charles Island (123), Palm Island (44) and a mainland reserve site at Spittal Pond (124) (see Davenport et al. 2001 for further details).

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Not much is known about the ecology of this species, but it appears that it may have a long generation length. It is thought that some individuals from a toe-clipping study were still being observed 27 years later. Hatchlings are believed to be strictly insectivorous, but the diet then switches to carrion, which is primarily collected from seabird nests (includes broken eggs, dead chicks, and regurgitated fish and squid) (Davenport et al. 2001).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threat has undoubtedly been habitat loss due to expanding agriculture (17% of the area) and homes and gardens (50% of the area). However, there has also been evidence of sharp declines in reserve areas with restored vegetation. These declines have been attributed to predation by introduced and reintroduced species. These include kiskadees (Pitangus sulphuratus, lizard-eating birds deliberately introduced in 1957 to control anoles), night herons (Nyctanassa violacea, reintroduced to replace long-extinct native herons in 1976–78), Jamaican anoles (Anolis grahami, introduced in 1905 to control scale insects on crops), and cane toads (Bufo marinus, a predatory species introduced to control cockroaches).

On islands not impacted by introduced species but easily accessible to people, high mortality has been attributed to the large number of discarded bottles and drink cans. Lizards are attracted to the bottles and cans, and then become trapped and are killed by the heat of the sun; their carcasses in turn attracting more lizards (see Davenport et al. 2001).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There is no legislation to specifically protect this species, however, there have been campaigns to raise awareness amongst the public. The preparation of the Bermuda Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan will hopefully lead to a Management Plan being developed for this species. Attempts are also being made to establish a captive population. In order to safeguard the last remaining viable subpopulation on Southampton Island it is essential that efforts are made to minimise any human impacts on the island, and that introductions of predatory species are prevented.

Citation: Conyers, J. & Wingate, D. 1996. Plestiodon longirostris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 October 2014.
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