Lacerta agilis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lacerta agilis
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Sand Lizard
French Lezard des Souches
Spanish Lagarto Ágil
Lacerta boemica Suchov, 1929
Lacerta paradoxa Bedriaga, 1886
Lacerta stirpium Daudin, 1802
Seps argus Laurenti, 1768
Seps caerulescens Laurenti, 1768
Seps ruber Laurenti, 1768
Taxonomic Notes: A phylogeographic study of this species based on mtDNA (Kalyabina et al. 2001) identified three groups of populations. Further studies of contact areas are needed to evaluate the taxonomic status of these three lineages (Crochet and Dubois 2004).

Ten subspecies are recognized:
The nominative subspecies, L. a. agilis is distributed in Western Europe and western Central Europe;
L. a. argus
Laurenti, 1758 inhabits Central Europe, east to the Carpathian Mountains and to eastern Poland;
L. a. chersonensis
Andrzejowski, 1832 - Moldavia, right-bank Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States, Leningrad region and south of the neighbouring Karelia. In the east, approximately from the left-bank valley of the river Dnieper a narrow area of intergradation with the neighbouring eastern subspecies is noted;
L. a. bosnica
Schreiber, 1912 occurs in the mountains of Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece;
L. a. exigua
Eichwald, 1831 occupies the whole eastern part of the distribution range up to the Crimean Peninsula and Ciscaucasia in the south;
L. a. grusinica
Peters, 1960 inhabits the coast of the Black Sea and submountane regions of the Caucasus in the south-west of the Krasnodar Territory, Abkhazia, in the Colchic lowland and Ajaria;
L. a. brevicaudata
Peters, 1958 occurs in northern and western Armenia, southern Georgia and on the southern slopes of the Great Caucasus range within the North Ossetia;
L. a. iorensis
Peters and Muskhelishwili, 1968 occurs on the southern slopes of the Caucasus range: in the valley and ravine of the upper current of the river Iori in Georgia;
L. a. boemica
Suchow, 1929 inhabits submontane regions of North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan;
L. a. tauridica
Suchow, 1926 inhabits the southern mountains of Crimea.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-06-30
Assessor(s): Agasyan, A., Avci, A., Tuniyev, B., Lymberakis, P., Andrén, C., Cogalniceanu, D., Wilkinson, J., Ananjeva, N., Üzüm, N., Orlov, N., Podloucky, R., Tuniyev, S., Kaya, U., Crnobrnja Isailovic, J., Vogrin, M., Corti, C., Pérez Mellado, V., Sá-Sousa, P., Cheylan, M., Pleguezuelos, J., Kyek, M., Westerström, A., Nettmann, H.K., Borczyk, B., Sterijovski, B. & Schmidt, B.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team) & Böhm, M., Collen, B., Ram, M. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team)
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Milligan, H.T., Powney, G., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Wearn, O.R., Wren, S. & Zamin, T.
Lacerta agilis is listed as Least Concern in view of its very wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification in some parts of its range and presumed large population. Although it is declining in parts of its range, overall it is unlikely to be declining fast enough (30% or more) to qualify for listing in a more threatened category at the global level. However, numerous subpopulations are threatened across the range of the species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species ranges from northeastern Spain (isolated populations in the Pyrenees at around 1,800 m asl), France, the United Kingdom (isolated and fragmented populations in the south and the northwest), and southern Scandinavia (throughout Denmark and with a patchy distribution in central and southern Sweden), eastwards through Western, Central and Eastern Europe (where it is patchily distributed) into the Caucasus Mountains, Central Asia and Eastern Asia, as far east as northwestern China and northwestern Mongolia. In Europe it ranges south to the Italian Alps (a few populations in southwestern and northeastern Alps only), northern and eastern Albania and northern Greece (where populations are largely isolated in mountain ranges). It occurs up to at least 2,500 m asl (Bulgaria).
Albania; Andorra; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Netherlands; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species can be common in suitable habitat. It is locally declining in Switzerland (B. Schmidt pers. comm.). In Sweden it occurs along the southern coast in continuous populations, inland populations are tiny (5-10 individuals) and relictual. This species is undergoing local declines in Slovenia and Croatia (M. Vogrin pers. comm.).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species can be found in a wide range of habitat types including meadows, heathland, coastal dunes, grassland, steppe, subalpine and alpine meadows, shrubland, hedgerows, open woodland, in alpine areas, traditionally managed agricultural land and rural gardens. Sometimes it is present in sandy semi-desert areas. In the northwest of its range (e.g. UK) it is largely restricted to open heathland and coastal dune habitats.

It appears after hibernation in March in the North, in March - April in the South and at mountains. The female may lay one or two clutches of between four and 14 eggs per year. Incubation period lasts 50 - 55 days. Young of first generation appear in July - August, second - in September - October.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by habitat loss through urbanization, conversion to intensive agricultural use (especially the loss of hedgerows and other suitable habitats), coastal and alpine tourism development and the loss of traditional forestry practices, and unsustainable management. Many animals are killed on roads in parts of its range (e.g. Austria). Some populations in Sweden are reported to be suffering from inbreeding depression due to a fragmented distribution (Olsson et al. 1996). There is some predation of animals by cats in urban areas. Open habitats, which this species requires, are being overgrown with vegetation. It is a threatened species in much of the northwest of its range, including the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and northern Germany.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is included in the Red Data Books of numerous countries in the western part of its range. It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention, and on Annex IV of the European Union Habitat and Species Directive. It is protected by national legislation in most of its range countries (all EU). This species is categorized as Vulnerable in Switzerland (Monney and Meyer 2005). It is present in a number of protected areas over much of its range. Habitat restoration projects (e.g. Estonia) and reintroductions for the species (e.g. UK) are taking place in parts of its range. More research on its biology and threats and monitoring is needed.

Bibliography [top]

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Citation: Agasyan, A., Avci, A., Tuniyev, B., Lymberakis, P., Andrén, C., Cogalniceanu, D., Wilkinson, J., Ananjeva, N., Üzüm, N., Orlov, N., Podloucky, R., Tuniyev, S., Kaya, U., Crnobrnja Isailovic, J., Vogrin, M., Corti, C., Pérez Mellado, V., Sá-Sousa, P., Cheylan, M., Pleguezuelos, J., Kyek, M., Westerström, A., Nettmann, H.K., Borczyk, B., Sterijovski, B. & Schmidt, B. 2010. Lacerta agilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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