Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Phrynosomatidae

Scientific Name: Uma inornata
Species Authority: Cope, 1895
Common Name(s):
English Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard
Taxonomic Notes: Was under the family Iguanidae.

Based on electrophoretic analyses, Adest (1977) concluded that Uma scoparia, Uma notata, and Uma inornata comprise a single species (Uma notata) (Adest 1977). Stebbins (1985, 2003) maintained the three taxa as distinct species. Phylogenetic relationships inferred from mtDNA sequences indicate that Uma notata rufopunctata is more closely related to Uma inornata than to Uma notata notata (Wilgenbusch and de Queiroz 2000, Trepanier and Murphy 2001). Trepanier and Murphy (2001) concluded that for the northern species of Uma existing data support either a two-species arrangement (Uma scoparia, Uma notata) or five-species classification (Uma scoparia, Uma notata, Uma inornata, and Uma rufopunctata, plus an undescribed species from Mohawk Dunes, Arizona). Trepanier and Murphy prefered the latter arrangement and stated that a description of the Mohawk Dunes species is in progress. Crother et al. (2003) adopted the taxonomy preferred by Trepanier and Murphy.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) 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)
Listed as Endangered, in view of its extent of occurrence of less than 5,000 km² and area of occupancy of less than 500 km², with all individuals in fewer than five locations, and a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Vulnerable (V)
1990 Vulnerable (V)
1988 Vulnerable (V)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to southern California in the United States. Its geographic range is restricted to the Coachella Valley, Riverside County, California, at elevations from near sea level to about 490 m (1,600 feet) (Pough 1973, Stebbins 2003). The historical, presettlement range extent has been estimated as encompassing about 839 sq. km (324 sq. miles) (see USFWS 1980).
Countries occurrence:
United States (California)
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The number of distinct occurrences has not been determined on the basis of recently developed criteria. The species is known from more than 90 collection sites, but these represent a much smaller number of distinct, extant occurrences. The three disjunct dune systems of the Coachella Valley Preserve encompass almost all of the remaining occupied habitat, each dune system could be regarded as a single occurrence; hence there may be just a few remaining viable occurrences. The total adult population size is unknown. Turner (cited by USFWS 1980) recorded densities of 4.4 to 45 individuals per hectare in suitable habitat. On a 2.25 ha plot, known population size varied from about 20 to 330 lizards (9 to 147 lizards per ha) over several years (Barrows et al. 1995). Assuming 50 sq. km of occupied habitat (representing the 19 sq. miles of remaining optimal habitat) and 1,000 adults per sq. km (10 per ha), the total adult population size would be around 50,000, which may or may not represent the correct order of magnitude. More than 50% of the historical habitat had been lost by the mid-1970s (see USFWS 1980). During the 1980s and 1990s, approximately 75% of this species' habitat was lost. USFWS (1990) categorized the status as "declining." Populations fluctuate with environmental variations and natural fluctuations in habitat (Barrows et al. 1995). As of 1999, populations were regarded as relatively stable (California Department of Fish and Game) or at least not declining so rapidly under the existing habitat conservation plan.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This lizard inhabits sparsely vegetated windblown sand dunes and sandy flats; it requires fine, loose sand for burrowing; vegetation usually is scant, consisting of creosote bush or other scrubby growth (Stebbins 2003), but perennial plants and the annual plant Dicoria canescens are important in providing shelter, plant and insect foods, and other benefits (Durtsche 1995). See also Turner et al. (1984) for habitat information. Individuals seek shelter underground, often in abandoned rodent burrows, or bury themselves in sand.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its small historical range is now much reduced due to agricultural and urban development; its habitat has been degraded by stabilization of dunes by planted windbreaks; at least 80 to 90% of the habitat has been lost. The remaining habitat is fragmented by roads and railroad cuts. Research during the 1990s found that sand migration due to winds may affect long-term survival of this species at two of the sections of the Coachella Valley Preserve; the dunes may be moving out of the conservation areas. Conservation of these crucial blow-sand sources is being addressed in the new Coachella Valley Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan and the development of a Conceptual Area Protection Plan. The result will be purchase of additional sand sources and sand transport corridors to ensure an adequate supply for the lizard. [from California Department of Fish and Game]

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The 3,709 acre Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1985 to protect the lizard. The Coachella Valley Preserve, cooperatively managed by The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Department of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Natural Lands Management, encompasses an additional 16,405 acres of Fringe-toed Lizard habitat adjacent to the Refuge (Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge website). The preserve encompasses three disjunct sites (Thousand Palms, Willow Hole, and Whitewater River), each with a discrete source of windblown sand. Collectively, the protected sites encompass a very small percentage of the lizards' original range. Few lizards now exist outside these protected areas.

Classifications [top]

8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

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. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.2. Commercial & industrial areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.3. Tourism & recreation areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.3. Indirect ecosystem effects

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Adest, G.A. 1977. Genetic relationships in the genus Uma (Iguanidae). Copeia 1977: 47-52.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. pp. 378. International Union for Conservation of Nature, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Barrows, C., Muth, A., Fisher, M. and Lovich, J. 1995. Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards. In: E.T. LaRoe, G.S. Farris, C.E. Puckett, P.D. Doran and M.J. Mac (eds) Our living resources: a report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems, pp. 137-138. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington, D.C.

Crother, B.I., Boundy, J., Campbell, J.A., de Quieroz, K., Frost, D., Green, D.M., Highton, R., Iverson, J.B., McDiarmid, R.W., Meylan, P.A., Reeder, T.W., Seidel, M.E., Sites Jr, J.W., Tilley, S.G. and Wake, D.B. 2003. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico: update. Herpetological Review 34: 196-203.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

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

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Jennings, M.R. and Hayes, M.P. 1994. Amphibian and reptile species of special concern in California. Final Report submitted to the California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division, Rancho Cordova. Contract No. 8023. 255 pp.

Pough, F.H. 1973. Uma inornata. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 126: 1-2.

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

Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Turner, F.B., Weaver, D.C. and Rorabaugh, J.C. 1984. Effects of reduction in windblown sand on the abundance of the fringe-toed lizard (Uma inornata) in the Coachella Valley, California. Copeia 1984: 370-378.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1980. Listing as threatened with critical habitat for the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. Federal Register 45(188): 63812-63820.

Wilgenbusch, J. and de Queiroz, K. 2000. Phylogenetic relationships among the phrynosomatid sand lizards inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences generated by heterogeneous evolutionary processes. Systematic Biology 40: 592-612.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Uma inornata. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T22727A9380224. . Downloaded on 09 October 2015.
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