Sceloporus undulatus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Phrynosomatidae

Scientific Name: Sceloporus undulatus
Species Authority: (Bosc & Daudin in Sonnini & Latreille, 1801)
Common Name(s):
English Eastern Fence Lizard, Fence Lizard, Plateau Lizard, Prairie Lizard
Sceloporus consobrinus Baird & Girard, 1853
Sceloporus cowlesi Lowe & Norris, 1956
Sceloporus tristichus Cope in Yarrow, 1875
Taxonomic Notes: Sceloporus undulatus is morphologically highly variable (Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991, Hammerson 1999). Leaché and Reeder (2002) examined range-wide mtDNA variation and identified at least four apparently monophyletic (but morphologically highly variable) groups, which they proposed as species under the evolutionary species concept (Eastern group: east of Mobile Bay; Central group: east of the Rockies and west of Mobile Bay; Western group: southern Wyoming to central Arizona and northern New Mexico; Southwestern group: eastern Arizona and central New Mexico to northern Mexico and western Texas). All of the groups are discordant with recognized subspecies circumscriptions. For example, the Central group encompasses six nominal subspecies ranging from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Gulf Coast of southern Mississippi. Populations of the morphologically distinctive subspecies erythrocheilus in central Colorado grouped with subspecies garmani (Central group) rather than with populations of erythrocheilus in south-central Colorado (Western group). Leaché and Reeder (2002) tentatively proposed the following names: eastern group, S. undulatus; central group, S. consobrinus; western group, S. tristichus; southwestern group, S. cowlesi. However, Leaché and Reeder identified no diagnostic characters for any of the proposed species, and the distributions of proposed species were only coarsely mapped and do not correspond closely with the distributions of previously recognized subspecies, leaving in doubt the specific identities of many Sceloporus populations.

Miles et al. (2002) examined allozyme variation (24 loci from 12 populations, 6 of the 11 recognized subspecies, plus 3 additional species and an outgroup species). Phylogenetic trees were inconsistent with current subspecific designations. Additionally, S. occidentalis, S. virgatus, and S. woodi arose within S. undulatus. The subspecies S. u. hyacithinus and S. u. undulatus are polyphyletic, and S. u. garmani and S. u. tristichus are paraphyletic. Two major lineages were identified: (1) a midwestern grasslands group (includes a population from St. Louis County, Missouri) and (2) various populations from eastern woodlands and western canyonlands.

Further integrated study of morphological and genetic variation, and more detailed genetic examination of various geographic areas, are needed before a well-founded, geographically comprehensive taxonomic revision of the S. undulatus group can be made (e.g., see Niewiarowski et al. 2004).

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., Lavin, P., Vazquez Díaz, J., Quintero Díaz, G. & Gadsden, H.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large and relatively stable extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size. A split of this species into multiple species has been proposed, but further study is needed to clarify the geographic and taxonomic scope of the new species. Adopting such a split likely would not result in any species that are not Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species ranges from New York to Florida, west to Utah and Arizona, north to South Dakota and central Indiana, and south to the Gulf Coast and Zacatecas (Stebbins 2003). The elevational range extends from sea level to around 3,050 m (10,000 feet) (Stebbins 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is represented by a very large number of occurrences that are densely distributed across the historical range. Many occurrences exhibit good viability. The total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 1,000,000. Local declines have occurred, but the overall extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and abundance are large and appear to be relatively stable.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Habitat varies geographically; various populations are primarily arboreal, terrestrial, or saxicolous. These lizards usually occur in sunny/open situations. They go underground or retreat to crevices when inactive. Eggs are laid in soil/underground.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No major threats have been identified. Local declines have occurred as a result of conversion of habitat to human uses.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in a large number of protected areas. No direct conservation measures are needed for the species as a whole.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability: Marginal  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability: Marginal  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
suitability: Marginal  

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy

Bibliography [top]

Conant, R. and Collins, J.T. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Hammerson, G.A. 1999. Amphibians and reptiles in Colorado. Second edition. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Leache, A.D. and Reeder, T.W. 2002. Molecular systematics of the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus): a comparison of parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian approaches. Systematic Biology 51: 44-68.

Miles, D.B., Noecker, R., Roosenburg, W.M. and White, M.M. 2002. Genetic relationships among populations of Sceloporus undulatus fail to support present subspecific designations. Herpetologica 58: 277-292.

Niewiarowski, P.H., Angelletta, M.J. and Leaché, A.D. 2004. Phylogenetic comparative analysis of life-history variation among populations of the lizard Sceloporus undulatus: an example and prognosis. Evolution 58: 619-633.

Stebbins, R.C. 1985. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Weins, J.J. and Reeder, T.W. 1997. Phylogeny of the spiny lizards (Sceloporus) based on molecular and morphological evidence. Herpetological Monographs 11: 1-101.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A., Lavin, P., Vazquez Díaz, J., Quintero Díaz, G. & Gadsden, H. 2007. Sceloporus undulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T64156A12749881. . Downloaded on 28 May 2016.
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