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Overview

Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) The range encompasses, New Mexico, northwestern Texas, and probably adjacent Chihiahia, Mexico (Stebbins: Presidio County, Texas, north to Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, and west to Hidalgo County New Mexico. The species occurs disjunctly near Conchas Lake, San Miguel County, and Fort Sumner, De Baca County, in New Mexico (Taylor 2002), and at Petrified Forest National Park, Apache County, Arizona (Persons and Wright 1999). The Conchas Lake and Fort Sumner populations in New Mexico may be natural occurrences (Taylor 2002) but could possibly represent introductions, whereas the Apache County record in Arizona more likely represents an introduction. Elevational range is around 1,010-1,890 meters (3,300-6,200 feet) (Stebbins 2003).

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Range Description

The range encompasses, New Mexico, northwestern Texas, and probably adjacent Chihiahia, Mexico (Stebbins: Presidio County, Texas, north to Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, and west to Hidalgo County New Mexico. The species occurs disjunctly near Conchas Lake, San Miguel County, and Fort Sumner, De Baca County, in New Mexico (Taylor 2002), and at Petrified Forest National Park, Apache County, Arizona (Persons and Wright 1999). The Conchas Lake and Fort Sumner populations in New Mexico may be natural occurrences (Taylor 2002) but could possibly represent introductions, whereas the Apache County record in Arizona more likely represents an introduction. Elevational range is around 1,010 to 1,890 m (Stebbins 2003).
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Continent: Middle-America North-America
Distribution: USA (W Texas, New Mexico, Arizona [Petrified Forest National Park]), Mexico (N Chihuahua)  
Type locality: McDonald Ranch Headquarters, 4,800 feet elevation, 8.7 miles west and 22.8 miles south of new Bingham Post Office, Socorro County, New Mexico”.
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 30 cm

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Type Information

Paratype for Aspidoscelis neomexicana
Catalog Number: USNM 132468
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1947
Locality: McDonald Ranch headquarters, Socorro, New Mexico, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Lowe, C. H. & Zweifel, R. G. 1952. Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. 9 (13): 230.
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Paratype for Aspidoscelis neomexicana
Catalog Number: USNM 132467
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1947
Locality: McDonald Ranch headquarters, Socorro, New Mexico, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Lowe, C. H. & Zweifel, R. G. 1952. Bulletin of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. 9 (13): 230.
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Ecology

Habitat

Chihuahuan Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is one of the most biologically diverse arid regions on Earth. This ecoregion extends from within the United States south into Mexico. This desert is sheltered from the influence of other arid regions such as the Sonoran Desert by the large mountain ranges of the Sierra Madres. This isolation has allowed the evolution of many endemic species; most notable is the high number of endemic plants; in fact, there are a total of 653 vertebrate taxa recorded in the Chihuahuan Desert.  Moreover, this ecoregion also sustains some of the last extant populations of Mexican Prairie Dog, wild American Bison and Pronghorn Antelope.

The dominant plant species throughout the Chihuahuan Desert is Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata). Depending on diverse factors such as type of soil, altitude, and degree of slope, L. tridentata can occur in association with other species. More generally, an association between L. tridentata, American Tarbush (Flourensia cernua) and Viscid Acacia (Acacia neovernicosa) dominates the northernmost portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The meridional portion is abundant in Yucca and Opuntia, and the southernmost portion is inhabited by Mexican Fire-barrel Cactus (Ferocactus pilosus) and Mojave Mound Cactus (Echinocereus polyacanthus). Herbaceous elements such as Gypsum Grama (Chondrosum ramosa), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Hairy Grama (Chondrosum hirsuta), among others, become dominant near the Sierra Madre Occidental. In western Coahuila State, Lecheguilla Agave (Agave lechuguilla), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Purple Prickly-pear (Opuntia macrocentra) and Rainbow Cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus) are the dominant vascular plants.

Because of its recent origin, few warm-blooded vertebrates are restricted to the Chihuahuan Desert scrub. However, the Chihuahuan Desert supports a large number of wide-ranging mammals, such as the Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), Robust Cottontail (Sylvilagus robustus EN); Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Grey Fox (Unocyon cineroargentinus), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Collared Peccary or Javelina (Pecari tajacu), Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni), Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys sp.), pocket mice (Perognathus spp.), Woodrats (Neotoma spp.) and Deer Mice (Peromyscus spp). With only 24 individuals recorded in the state of Chihuahua Antilocapra americana is one of the most highly endangered taxa that inhabits this desert. The ecoregion also contains a small wild population of the highly endangered American Bison (Bison bison) and scattered populations of the highly endangered Mexican Prairie Dog (Cynomys mexicanus), as well as the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

The Chihuahuan Desert herpetofauna typifies this ecoregion.Several lizard species are centered in the Chihuahuan Desert, and include the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum); Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis), often found under rocks in limestone foothills; Reticulate Gecko (C. reticulatus); Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus); several species of spiny lizards (Scelopoprus spp.); and the Western Marbled Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tigris marmoratus). Two other whiptails, the New Mexico Whiptail (C. neomexicanus) and the Common Checkered Whiptail (C. tesselatus) occur as all-female parthenogenic clone populations in select disturbed habitats.

Representative snakes include the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis), Texas Blackhead Snake (Tantilla atriceps), and Sr (Masticophis taeniatus) and Neotropical Whipsnake (M. flagellum lineatus). Endemic turtles include the Bolsón Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus), Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene coahuila) and several species of softshell turtles. Some reptiles and amphibians restricted to the Madrean sky island habitats include the Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi), Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (C. pricei), Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis), Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii), and Canyon Spotted Whiptail (Cnemidophorus burti).

There are thirty anuran species occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert: Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chircahuaensis); Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans); Rio Grande Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides); Cliff Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus marnockii); Spotted Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus guttilatus); Tarahumara Barking Frog (Craugastor tarahumaraensis); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata); Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Dwarf Toad (Incilius canaliferus); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Eastern Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis); Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps); and Longfoot Chirping Toad (Eleutherodactylus longipes VU). The sole salamander occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert is the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

Common bird species include the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and the rare Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus). Geococcyx californianus), Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostra), Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum), Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), Worthen’s Sparrow (Spizella wortheni), and Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). In addition, numerous raptors inhabit the Chihuahuan Desert and include the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi).

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Comments: Habitats characteristically are perpetually disturbed, disclimax habitats within the Rio Gramde drainage (Degenhardt et al. 1996), such as those along floodplains (Stebbins 2003), including grasslands with scattered shrubs, mesquite-creosotebuch communities, river basins, washes, arroyos, and vacant lots; also shrubby edges of desert playas and desert/grassland ecotones (west of the Rio Grande) (Degenhardt et al. 1996); generally in areas with loose sand or packed sandy soil (Stebbins 2003); it also can be numerous among human-generated rubble (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). It rarely occurs at higher elevations in pinyon-juniper woodland where open sandy alluvial benches are present (Parker and Selander 1984, Degenhardt et al. 1996). Eggs are laid probably in a nest dug in soil or underground.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Habitats characteristically are perpetually disturbed, disclimax habitats within the Rio Grande drainage (Degenhardt et al. 1996), such as those along floodplains (Stebbins 2003), including grasslands with scattered shrubs, mesquite-creosote bush communities, river basins, washes, arroyos (dry creeks), and vacant lots; also shrubby edges of desert playas and desert/grassland ecotones (west of the Rio Grande) (Degenhardt et al. 1996); generally in areas with loose sand or packed sandy soil (Stebbins 2003); it also can be numerous among human-generated rubble (Bartlett and Bartlett 1999). It rarely occurs at higher elevations in pinyon-juniper woodland where open sandy alluvial benches are present (Parker and Selander 1984, Degenhardt et al. 1996). Eggs are laid probably in a nest dug in soil/underground.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats insects and spiders (Stebbins 1985).

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Comments: This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences or subpopulations. For example, Degenhardt et al. (1996) mapped nearly 200 collection sites in New Mexico.

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. This is a common lizard in most of its range.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

All female, parthenogenetic. Lays clutch of 2-4 eggs in summer. Eggs hatch in 50-60 days.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2007

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)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of the probably stable extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size. No major threats have been identified.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable.

Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%

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Population

Population
This species is represented by hundreds of occurrences or subpopulations. For example, Degenhardt et al. (1996) mapped nearly 200 collection sites in New Mexico. The total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. This is a common lizard in most of its range. The extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: No major threats have been identified.

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Major Threats
There appear to be no major threats to this species.
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Management

Global Protection: Several to many (4-40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: This lizard occurs in White Sands National Monument, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, various national forests, and other protected or nominally protected areas.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This lizard occurs in White Sands National Monument, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, various national forests, and other protected or nominally protected areas. No direct conservation measures are needed for this species as a whole.
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Wikipedia

New Mexico whiptail

The New Mexico whiptail (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus) is a species of lizard found in the southern United States in New Mexico and Arizona, and in northern Mexico in Chihuahua. It is the official state reptile of New Mexico.[1] It is one of many lizard species known to be parthenogenic. Individuals of the species can be created either through the hybridization of the little striped whiptail (C. inornatus) and the western whiptail (C. tigris), or through the parthenogenic reproduction of an adult New Mexico whiptail.

The hybridization of these species prevents healthy males from forming whereas males do exist in both parent species (see Sexual differentiation). Parthenogenesis allows the resulting all-female population to reproduce and thus evolve into a unique species capable of reproduction. This combination of interspecific hybridization and parthenogenesis exists as a reproductive strategy in several species of whiptail lizard within the Cnemidophorus genus to which the New Mexico whiptail belongs.

Description[edit]

The New Mexico whiptail grows from 16.5 to 23 cm (6.5 to 9 in) in length, and is typically overall brown or black in color with seven pale yellow stripes from head to tail. Light colored spots often occur between the stripes. They have a white or pale blue underside, with a blue or blue-green colored throat. They are slender bodied, with a long tail.

Behavior[edit]

Like most other whiptail lizards, the New Mexico whiptail is diurnal and insectivorous. They are wary, energetic, and fast moving, darting for cover if approached. They are found in a wide variety of semi-arid habitats, including grassland, rocky areas, shrubland, or mountainside woodlands. Reproduction occurs through parthenogenesis, with up to four unfertilized eggs being laid in mid summer, and hatching approximately eight weeks later.

The New Mexico whiptail lizard is a crossbreed of a western whiptail which lives in the desert and the little striped whiptail that favours grasslands. The lizard is a female-only species that reproduces by producing an egg through parthenogenesis. Despite reproducing asexually, and being an all female species, the whiptail still engages in mating behavior with other females of its own species, giving rise to the common nickname "lesbian lizards". A common theory is that this behavior stimulates ovulation, as those who do not "mate" do not lay eggs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Chapter VIII. New Mexico state animals". New Mexico Envirothon. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 



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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: 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.

This species is a parthenogen, derived through hybridization between A. (tigris) marmorata and A. inornata (Frost and Wright 1988, Cole et al. 1988). It exhibits low clonal diversity (Parker and Selander 1984). See Cole et al. (1988) for a discussion of the origin of two atypical electrophoretically distinct clones.

Cnemidophorus perplexus is a senior synonym of A. neomexicana (the lectotype of perplexus evidently is not a hybrid; Taylor and Walker 1996, Copeia 1996:945-954). To promote nomenclatural stability, Smith et al. (1997), including Walker, proposed to the ICZN that C. neomexicanus be conserved and that Cnemidophorus perplexus be suppressed. This proposal was approved (1999 Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 56(2):162-163).

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