Overview

Distribution

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

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Geographic Range

Eastern fence lizards range from mid New York south to mid Florida and northern part Texas and as far west as Colorado.

Subspecies include: southern fence lizards, S. u. undulatus, southern prairie lizards, S. u. consobrinus, White Sands prairie lizards, S. u. cowlesi, northern plateau lizards, S. u. elongatus, red-lipped prairie lizards, S. u. erythrocheilus, northern prairie lizards, S. u. garmani, northern fence lizards, S. u. hyacinthinus, and southern plateau lizards, S. u. tristichus.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Continent: Middle-America North-America
Distribution: USA (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, S Wyoming, S South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, S Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, S Illinois, S Indiana, S Ohio, Wisconsin, S Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Florida),  Mexico (N/E Chihuahua, NE Durango, Coahuila, NW Nuevo Leon, N Zacatecas), Canada (British Columbia [fide BOULENGER 1887])  edbelli: Mexico (Durango, Coahuila, Chihuahua);
Type locality: Two mi S León Guzmán, Durango, Mexico.  elongatus: USA (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah [fide BURT 1933]).
Type locality: Moa Ave, Painted Desert, Arizona.  erythrocheilus: USA (Colorado).
Type locality: Nineteen mi E Model, Purgatoire River, Las Animas County, Colorado.   floridanus:
Type locality: Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.   garmani: E New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska.
Type locality: "Dacota", in original description; restricted to "Near Pine Ridge, South Dakota", by Stejneger and Barbour (1933).  hyacinthinus: Missouri etc.;
Type locality: None stated. "Probably the vicinity of Princeton, New Jersey" (Stejneger and Barbour, 1943). Neo
Type locality: Crossley Preserve, western Berkeley Township, Ocean County, New Jersey, 4.76 mi (7.05 km) directly west of the Garden State Parkway bridge over Toms River at Toms River, New Jersey.  cowlesi: USA (New Mexico).
Type locality: White Sands, 3 mi NW National Monument Headquarters, Otero County, New  Mexico.  speari:
Type locality: 1.6 km N Hwy 2, 107°11'W, 31°33” N, 1250 m, on a side road intersecting Hwy. 2, 3.6 km E Microondas Duna, 18.6 km E San Martín, northern central Chihuahua, Mexico.  tedbrowni: New Mexico [HR 32: 58].
Type locality: A large dune, Waldrop Peak, 0.5 mi S Hy 380, Chavez Co., 6 mi W Caprock, Lea Co., New Mexico.  thayerii:
Type locality: "Indianola [Calhoun County, Texas], on the Gulf of Mexico, San Antonio (Texas), El Paso del Norte, and as far westward as the province of Sonora". However, Smith (1938c) and Cochran (1961) give the type locality as Indianola.  tristichus: USA (Arizona);
Type locality: Taos, Taos Co., New Mexico.  undulatus:
Type locality: "Les grands bois de la Caroline." Of neotype, 3.2 mi (5.14 km) N intersection of South Carolina route 41 and county road 100 at Wando (Cainhoy), in Francis Marion National Forest, Berkeley County, South Carolina. Wando, or Cainhoy, is 15.25 mi (24.6 km) NE Charleston, S. C.
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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: According to Leaché and Reeder (2002), the range includes much of the eastern United States (New York to Ohio, and southward to southern Alabama and central Florida). The western limit of the range approaches Mobile Bay, but further sampling is required in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee (Leaché and Reeder 2002). Leaché and Reeder (2002) provided only coarse-scale range maps and did not include distributional details for areas where the range of this species adjoins or approaches the range of S. consobrinus.

Occurrence of this species on Long Island, New York, likely is the result of an introduction (Feinberg, 2004, Herpetol. Rev. 35:188).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Eastern fence lizards vary in color geographically, but are usually gray, brown or a rusty color. Males and females are similar in size. Individuals in northern populations (northern New York south to Maryland) are generally smaller than individuals in southern populations (northern Virginia south to northern Florida). This may be because southern populations have a longer warm season in which to eat and grow.

Males have a blue patch on the belly and throat. Average adult mass is 15 g, while adult total lengths range from 9 to 19 cm.

Average mass: 15 g.

Range length: 9 to 19 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

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Size

Length: 19 cm

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Type Information

Syntype for Sceloporus undulatus
Catalog Number: USNM 2887
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Indianola, Calhoun, Texas, United States, North America
  • Syntype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1852. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 6 (4): 127.
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Holotype for Sceloporus undulatus
Catalog Number: USNM 2874
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Pensacola, Escambia, Florida, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Baird, S. F. 1858. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 10: 254.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

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
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Habitat Type: Terrestrial

Comments: In most areas these lizards are arboreal in wooded landscapes. They usually occur in open/sunny situations.

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Eastern fence lizards are found in grasslands, shrublands, and the edges of pine or hardwood forests. Eastern fence lizards live under wood piles, logs, and rocks where they can be protected during the evening hours. During daylight hours eastern fence lizards can be found basking in the same areas in which they rest: on fences, logs, rock, and tree trunks.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

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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: Diet is dominated by insects, spiders, and other arthropods.

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Food Habits

Eastern fence lizards eat primarily insects and other arthropods, including ants (Formicidae), beetles (Coleoptera), weevils (Curculionidae), lady bugs Coccinellidae), spiders (Araneae), and centipedes (Chilopoda). They also sometimes eat snails (Gastropoda). Some plant matter like cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and needlegrass (Caproni stipa) is sometimes consumed.  Females tend to eat more insects during the spring months, in order to save energy for egg-laying. Lizards generally forage twice daily.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks

Plant Foods: leaves

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Eastern fence lizards mainly feed on insects and are themselves prey for birds and other larger predators. They compete with other lizard species for their insect prey. Common parasites include chiggers and botflies.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

Males with larger blue patches are more likely to be preyed on by birds. As a result, males have a high mortality rate during early spring when they are establishing mating territories. Females have a higher mortality rate during the period of egg-laying, because they are protecting their territory, making them more susceptible to predators. Larger lizard species, snakes, and domestic cats and dogs also eat eastern fence lizards.  Eastern fence lizards are slower than other lizards, often giving predators. Eastern fence lizards are cryptically colored and can move quite rapidly when they are warm.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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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 a large number of occurrences (subpopulations) and locations.

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but very large.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

To attract mates and warn off other individuals, male eastern fence lizards do head bob displays, push ups, and puff themselves up. Head-bobs and push-ups are done in 4 to 5 second durations.

Communication Channels: visual

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; vibrations ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: These lizards are inactive during cold periods and during the hottest part of day in summer.

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Life Cycle

Development

After being laid, eggs double in size during embryonic development. Eggs hatch from June to September. Upon hatching, individuals are about half the size of adults. They tend to grow quickly in the first two months of life and are fully mature at 1 year.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Lifespans of eastern fence lizards are not well understood, but researchers believe that they can live for more than 5 years, possibly averaging ages of 4 years. However, the majority of eastern fence lizards probably die soon after hatching.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
5 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
4 years.

  • Haenel, G., H. John-Alder. 2002. Experimental and demographic analyses of growth rate and sexual size dimorphism in a lizard, Sceloporus undulatus. OIKOS, 96: 70-81.
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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Although the longevity of this animal is unknown, an increased reproductive output with age has been reported (Patnaik 1994). Animals from different geographical locations have been shown to have different life histories presumably due not only to environmental factors but also because of physiological differences. In New Jersey, lizards grow slower than in Nebraska, reach maturity at later ages, and have a longer lifespan (Niewiarowski and Roosenburg 1993).
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Reproduction

During the mating season, beginning in April, males flash their blue patches to attract females. Males also have anal glands that secrete a pheromone during and after breeding season to attract females. After mating males and females no longer associate. Males may seek other mating opportunities.

Mating System: polygynous

Mating occurs from April to August. Young females lay one clutch of 3 to 13 eggs. Older females lay 2 to 4 clutches per year. Eggs hatch from June to September. The eggs are laid below 3 to 7 cm of soil so that the moisture and temperature remain constant. It may take 10 weeks for the eggs to hatch after they have been deposited. The offspring reach maturity at 1 year of age.

Breeding interval: Young eastern fence lizards lay one clutch per year while older females can lay 2 to 4 clutches per year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from April to August.

Range number of offspring: 3 to 13.

Average gestation period: 8 weeks.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 to 2 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 to 2 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

Female eastern fence lizards increase body size if food is available, which is directly correlated to an increased clutch size. After laying her eggs females leave their young to fend for themselves.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female)

  • Behler, J. 1979. The Audubon Society Feild Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
  • The University of Chicago. 1992. Hormones, Brain, and Behavior. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College. 1983. Lizard Ecology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Smith, H. 1946. Handbook to Lizards. Binghamtom., NY: Comstock Publishing Company, Inc..
  • Ferguson, G., C. Bohlen, P. Woolley. 1980. Sceloporus Undulatus: Comparative Life History and Regulation of a Kansas Population. Ecology, 61: 313-322. Accessed October 01, 2007 at http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0012-9658%28198004%2961%3A2%3C313%3ASUCLHA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-I.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sceloporus undulatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

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 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.
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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

Reasons: Large range in much of the eastern United States; many occurrences; large population size; extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and abundance appear to be relatively stable.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

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Eastern fence lizards are thriving due to the availability edge habitats and secondary growth around pine forests, their preferred habitat.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

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.

Population Trend
Stable
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain, but distribution and abundance likely have been relatively stable.

Global Long Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 30%

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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats have been identified. Local declines have occurred as a result of conversion of habitat to human uses.
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Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: No major threats have been identified. Local declines have occurred as a result of conversion of habitat to human uses.

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Management

Conservation Actions

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.
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Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: This species is present in a large number of protected areas.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Eastern fence lizards are not pests and do not have a negative effect on the human population. If individual lizards are harassed, they may bite.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Eastern fence lizards are used to help educate people about conservation and reptiles. Eastern fence lizards decrease insect and arachnid populations, which can be pest species in some areas.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Eastern fence lizard

Male with blue sides
Camouflaged by tree

The eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) is a medium-sized species of lizard found along forest edges, rock piles, and rotting logs or stumps in the eastern United States. It is sometimes referred to as the prairie lizard, fence swift, gray lizard, or pine lizard.

Taxonomy[edit]

The generic name, Sceloporus, is derived from the Greek skelos/σκελος, meaning "leg", and the Latin porus, meaning "hole", referring to the enlarged femoral pores found in this genus of lizards. The specific name, undulatus, is Latin for "wave", referring to the transverse dark crossbars on the backs of these lizards.[3]

Until 2002, 10 subspecies of S. undulatus were recognized:,[4] but re-evaluation showed paraphyly between the subspecies. These were reclassified as four distinct evolutionary species (the three new species being S. consobrinus, S. tristichus, and S. cowlesi). The narrowed redefinition of S. undulatus has been suggested to still contain two subspecies divided by the Appalachian Mountains. None is currently formally recognized.[5]

The following cladogram is based on Leache and Reeder, 2002:[5]



Sceloporus undulatus species group


S. cowlesi



S. cautus






S. tristichus




S. consobrinus



S. woodi





S. undulatus





S. virgatus




S. occidentalis



Distribution[edit]

The eastern fence lizard is found in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Southern Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, West Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware, northern Florida, and southern New Jersey.[5] There are isolated populations outside this range in southeastern New York.[6]

Description[edit]

The eastern fence lizard can grow from 4.0 to 7.2 inches long.[6] It is typically colored in shades of gray or brown, and has keeled scales, with a dark line running along the rear of the thigh. A female is usually gray and has a series of dark, wavy lines across her back. The belly is white with black flecks, with some pale blue on the throat and belly. The male is usually brown, and during the summer, has a more greenish-blue and black coloration on the sides of the belly and throat than the female has. The young look like the females, but are darker and duller.

They closely resemble the western fence lizard, but differ slightly in coloration and live in a different area and habitat.

Response to fire ant predation[edit]

In 70 years, according to a study published in 2009, eastern fence lizards in parts of the United States have adapted to have longer legs and new behaviors to escape the red imported fire ant, which can kill the lizard in under a minute.[7]

Mating[edit]

Eastern fence lizard egg

Eastern fence lizards mate in spring, and lay three to 16 eggs in late spring or early summer. The young hatch in summer and fall.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hammerson, G.A., Lavin, P., Vazquez Díaz, J., Quintero Díaz, G. & Gadsden, H. (2007). "Sceloporus undulatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 27 March 2013.  Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ Bosc and Daudin (1802) In Sonnini and Latreille.Hist. Nat. Rept., Vol. 2, p. 40
  3. ^ Liddell & Scott (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-910207-4
  4. ^ S. u. consobrinus, S. u. cowlesi, S. u. elongatus, S. u. erythrocheilus, S. u. garmani, S. u. hyacinthinus, S. u. speari, S. u. tedbrowni, S. u. tristichus, and S. u. undulatus.
  5. ^ a b c Leache, A.D., Reeder, T.W. (2002). "Molecular systematics of the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus): A comparison of parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian approaches". Syst. Biol. 51 (1): 44–68. 
  6. ^ a b Conant, Roger; Collins, Joseph (1991). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians Eastern/Central North America. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-58389-6. 
  7. ^ "Lizards' Dance Avoids Deadly Ants". LiveScience. 26 January 2009.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: The traditionally recognized Sceloporus undulatus is morphologically highly variable (e.g., see Stebbins 1985, Conant and Collins 1991, Hammerson 1999). Recent genetic studies indicate that the species comprises multiple species that do not conform with traditionally recognized subspecies.

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 genetic variation, using mitochindrial and nuclear DNA, and more detailed genetic examination of various geographic areas (Niewiarowski et al. 2004; Leaché and Cole 2007; Leaché 2009) has helped clarify relationships among "S. undulatus" populations. Recognition of the four species proposed by Leaché and Reeder (2002) seems to be a justifiable change in the treatment of this complex, but the precise distributions of the taxa near some clade boundaries remain problematic. Leaché and Cole (2007) acknowledged the challenges imposed by apparent decoupling of morphological, karyotypic, and mtDNA divergence that may occur among populations in this complex and noted that conclusions about the number of species in the S. undulatus complex are directly linked to the particular "threshold' one imposes to define species status.

Specific distinctness of S. occidentalis and S. undulatus is confirmed by their sympatric reproductive isolation in southwestern Utah (Cole 1984, Smith and Chiszar 1989).

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