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Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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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: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) The geographic range excompasses the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges from central California to northern Baja California (Pacific coast to Sierra San Pedro Martir; Grismer 2002); isolated populations exist in southeastern California, southern Nevada, and west-central Arizona (Stebbins 2003). Elevational range extends from near sea level to about 2,220 meters (7,300 feet) (Stebbins 2003).

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Range Description

The geographic range of this species encompasses the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges from central California in the United States to northern Baja California in Mexico (Pacific coast to the central Sierra San Pedro Martir; Grismer 2002). Isolated populations exist in southeastern California, southern Nevada, and west-central Arizona (Stebbins 2003). Its elevational range extends from near sea level to about 2,220 m (7,300 feet) (Stebbins 2003).
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Continent: Middle-America North-America
Distribution: USA (California, S Nevada, W Arizona),  Mexico (N Baja California)  arizonensis: isolated populations in Arizona,in the Bradshaw Mountains, Weaver Mountains, Santa Maria Mountains, Cerbat and Music Mountains.
Type locality: USA: 5 mi SE Wickenburg, Maricopa County, Arizona.  rubricaudatus: USA (S California), Mexico (NW Baja California, North Coronado Island).
Type locality: Tehachapi Mountains, California.
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endemic to a single state or province

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 33 cm

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Type Information

Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 18604
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Adult
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1891
Locality: Old Fort Tejon, Kern, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 18603
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Adult
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1891
Locality: Old Fort Tejon, Kern, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 20385
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Witch Creek, San Diego, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 20211
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Santa Ysabel, Witch Creek, San Diego, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 11799
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Fresno, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 44771
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1894
Locality: Tehachapi, Kern, California, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 1219 to 1219
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 5310
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol; Dry
Locality: Fort Tejon, Kern, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 539486
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Fort Tejon, Kern, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 539485
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Fort Tejon, Kern, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 539484
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Locality: Fort Tejon, Kern, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Paratype for Plestiodon gilberti rubricaudatus
Catalog Number: USNM 21999
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Sex/Stage: ; Adult
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1894
Locality: Jacumba Hot Spring, San Diego, California, United States, North America
  • Paratype: Taylor, E. H. 1935. The Kansas University Science Bulletin. 23: 446, Plate 39; Figure 73.
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Ecology

Habitat

California Central Valley Grasslands Habitat

This taxon is found in the California Central Valley grasslands, which extend approximately 430 miles in central California, paralleling the Sierra Nevada Range to the east and the coastal ranges to the west (averaging 75 miles in longitudinal extent), and stopping abruptly at the Tehachapi Range in the south. Two rivers flow from opposite ends and join around the middle of the valley to form the extensive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that flows into San Francisco Bay.

Perennial grasses that were adapted to cool-season growth once dominated the ecoregion. The deep-rooted Purple Needle Grass (Nassella pulchra) was particularly important, although Nodding Needle Grass (Stipa cernua), Wild Ryes (Elymus spp.), Lassen County Bluegrass (Poa limosa), Aristida spp., Crested Hair-grass (Koeleria pyramidata), Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens,), and Coast Range Melicgrass (Melica imperfecta) occurred in varying proportions. Most grass growth occurred in the late spring after winter rains and the onset of warmer and sunnier days. Interspersed among the bunchgrasses were a rich array of annual and perennial grasses and forbs, the latter creating extraordinary flowering displays during certain years. Some extensive mass flowerings of the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Lupines (Lupinus spp.), and Exserted Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja exserta) are found in this grassland ecoregion.

Prehistoric grasslands here supported several herbivores including Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), elk (including a valley subspecies, the Tule Elk, (Cervus elaphus nannodes), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), California ground squirrels, gophers, mice, hare, rabbits, and kangaroo rats. Several rodents are endemics or near-endemics to southern valley habitats including the Fresno Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis), Tipton Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), San Joaquin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus inornatus), and Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens). Predators originally included grizzly bear, gray wolf, coyote, mountain lion, ringtail, bobcat, and the San Joaquin Valley Kit Fox (Vulpes velox), a near-endemic.

The valley and associated delta once supported enormous populations of wintering waterfowl in extensive freshwater marshes. Riparian woodlands acted as important migratory pathways and breeding areas for many neotropical migratory birds. Three species of bird are largely endemic to the Central Valley, surrounding foothills, and portions of the southern coast ranges, namely, the Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli), the Tri-colored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor EN), and Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii).

The valley contains a number of reptile species including several endemic or near-endemic species or subspecies such as the San Joaquin Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ruddocki), the Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia sila EN), Gilbert’s Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) and the Sierra Garter Snake (Thamnophis couchii). Lizards present in the ecoregion include: Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum NT); Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis); Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata); and the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea).

There are only a few amphibian species present in the California Central Valley grasslands ecoregion. Special status anuran taxa found here are: Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylii NT); Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla); and Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes). The Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) occurs within this ecoregion.

Although many endemic plant species are recognized, especially those associated with vernal pools, e.g. Prickly Spiralgrass (Tuctoria mucronata). A number of invertebrates are known to be restricted to California Central Valley habitats. These include the Delta Green Ground Beetle (Elaphrus viridis CR) known only from a single vernal pool site, and the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) found only in riparian woodlands of three California counties.

Vernal pool communities occur throughout the Central Valley in seasonally flooded depressions. Several types are recognized including valley pools in basin areas which are typically alkaline or saline, terrace pools on ancient flood terraces of higher ground, and pools on volcanic soils. Vernal pool vegetation is ancient and unique with many habitat and local endemic species. During wet springs, the rims of the pools are encircled by flowers that change in composition as the water recedes. Several aquatic invertebrates are restricted to these unique habitats including a species of fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp.

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Comments: The species occurs in a wide variety of habitats: grassland, salt flats, high desert, open chaparral, pinon-juniper woodland, and open pine forest, often in rocky areas in the vicinity of intermittent or permanent streams and springs (Stebbins 2003); it extends into desert areas along riparian corridors (Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003).

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species occurs in a wide variety of habitats: grassland, salt flats, high desert, open chaparral, pinon-juniper woodland, and open pine forest, often in rocky areas in the vicinity of intermittent or permanent streams and springs (Stebbins 2003). It extends into hot desert areas along riparian corridors (Grismer 2002, Stebbins 2003).

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.

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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 - 300

Comments: Thie lizard is represented by a large number of occurrences or subpopulations. Jones (1985) mapped more than 150 collection sites throughout the range.

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Global Abundance

10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but likely exceeds 100,000.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: Lizards are inactive in cold temperatures and extreme heat.

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Reproduction

Lays a clutch of 3-9 eggs during the summer.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Plestiodon gilberti

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T4 - Apparently Secure

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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: Future taxonomic revisions will require a reassessment of the conservation status of this and related species.

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
Hollingsworth, B. & Hammerson, G.A.

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 its wide distribution, tolerance of a broad range of habitats, presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Trends are not documented, but the extent of occurrence, arrea of occupnacy, number of subpopulations, and population size probably are relatively stable or slowly declining.

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

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Population

Population
This lizard is represented by a large number of occurrences or subpopulations. Jones (1985) mapped more than 150 collection sites throughout the range. The total adult population size is unknown but probably exceeds 100,000. Population trends are not documented, but the extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable or slowly declining.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Degree of Threat: Medium

Comments: In some areas, declines likely have occurred as a result of habitat destruction associated with residential and commercial development. However, the species remains fairly common in many areas.

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Major Threats
In some areas, declines have probably occurred as a result of habitat destruction associated with residential and commercial development, and agricultural expansion. However, the species remains fairly common in many areas.
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Management

Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: This species occurs in many protected areas (parks, refuges)..

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species occurs in many protected areas (parks, refuges). No direct conservation measures are currently needed for the species as a whole.
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Wikipedia

Gilbert's Skink

Gilbert's skink (Plestiodon gilberti) is a species of heavy-bodied medium-sized lizard of the family of skinks. It is endemic to the southwestern United States, and grows to about 7 to 12 cm (2.75 to 4.75 inches) in total length.

Taxonomy[edit source | edit]

Plestiodon gilberti was first described by Van Denburgh in 1896. It was named in honor of Van Denburgh's teacher, Dr. Charles H. Gilbert (1859 - 1928), who at the time was a professor of zoology at Stanford University.

There are five subspecies of Plestiodon gilberti:

  • Arizona skink, P. g. arizonensis (Lowe and Shannon, 1954)
  • Greater brown skink, P. g. gilberti (Van Denburgh, 1896)
  • Northern brown skink, P. g. placerensis (Rodgers, 1944)
  • Variegated skink, P. g. cancellosus (Rodgers and Fitch, 1947)
  • Western red-tailed skink, P. g. rubricaudatus (Taylor, 1935)

(P.g. placerensis got its name from Placer County, California, where it occurs.)

Together with the western skink (P. skiltonianus), the San Lucan skink (P. lagunensis), and the four-lined Asiatic skink (P. quadrilineatus), Gilbert's skink belongs to the so-called "skiltonianus group". The exact taxonomy within this group is being questioned and may need revision following DNA analysis research.

Geographic range[edit source | edit]

Gilbert's skink occurs mainly in California. It is found in the northern San Joaquin Valley, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada from Butte County southward, and along the inner flanks of the Coast Ranges from San Francisco Bay to the Mexican border and into northern Baja California. It is also found in the mountains of southern California, and at scattered mountain localities in the eastern desert from Mono County to San Bernardino County. Isolated populations also occur in western Arizona as well as in southern Nevada.

Habitat[edit source | edit]

Gilbert's skink occurs in habitats ranging from sea level to elevations of about 2200 m (7300 ft). Found in a wide variety of habitats, this lizard is commonest in early successional stages or open areas within habitats in which it occurs, which range from grassland to open chaparral or open pine forests. Heavy brush and densely forested areas are generally avoided.

Description[edit source | edit]

Close-up of head.

Gilbert's skink is a heavy-bodied lizard with small legs. Adults are uniformly colored in green, grey, olive or brown. Juveniles have light stripes on the sides and the back enclosing a broad black or brown stripe. This dark stripe stops near base of a waxy-pink tail. The striping fades with growth and maturation.

Behavior[edit source | edit]

This robust skink is seldom seen in the open. It forages through leaf litter and dense vegetation, occasionally digging through loose soil. It is a good burrower and often constructs its own shelter by burrowing under surface objects such as rocks or rotting logs. Females construct nest chambers in loose moist soil several centimeters deep, especially under flat stones.

Reproduction[edit source | edit]

The reproductive season for this species varies geographically and from year to year depending on local conditions. Little is known about the timing of reproduction, but it is probably similar to the Western Skink. Clutch size varies from 3 to 9 eggs.

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.

Further reading[edit source | edit]

  • Behler, J.L., and F.W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Knopf. New York. 743 pp. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Eumeces gilberti, pp. 571-572 + Plates 430, 434.)
  • Smith, H.M., and E.D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. Reptiles of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Golden Press. New York. 240 pp. ISBN 0-307-13666-3. (Eumeces gilberti, pp. 78-79.)
  • Stebbins, R.C. 2003. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Third Edition. The Peterson Field Guide Series ®. Houghton Mifflin. Boston and New York. xiii + 533 pp. ISBN 0-395-98272-3. (Eumeces gilberti, pp. 314-315 + Plate 36 + Map 108.)
  • Vandenburgh, J. 1896. Description of a New Lizard (Eumeces gilberti) from the Sierra Nevada of California. Proc. California Acad. Sci., Second Series 6: 350-352.

See also[edit source | edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Crother (2008) placed the name "gilberti" in quotation marks to indicate that it refers to a species complex.

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Comments: In a phylogenetic analysis of Eumeces based on morphology, Griffith et al. (2000) proposed splitting Eumeces into multiple genera, based on the apparent paraphyly of Eumeces. Smith (2005) and Brandley et al. (2005) formally proposed that all North American species (north of Mexico) be placed in the genus Plestiodon. This was accepted by Crother (2008, 2012) and Collins and Taggart (2009).

Recent phylogenetic analyses using DNA data indicate that the E. gilberti morphotype (generally large-bodied and uniformly colored, versus the small-bodied and striped E. skiltonianus morphotype) has arisen independently at least three times (three clades) and that two of the three clades are nested within the geographically more widespread E. skiltonianus (Richmond and Reeder 2002). Eumces lagunensis of southern Baja California is also nested phylogenetically within E. skiltonianus (Richmond and Reeder 2002). A taxonomic revision is warranted, but further study is needed before the species limits within this group can be definitively determined (Richmond and Reeder 2002).

de Queiroz and Reeder (in Crother 2012) stated that the results of Richmond and Reeder (2002) contradict the recognition of P. g. arizonensis, which is not differentiated from P. g. rubricaudatus; de Quieroz and Reeder thus eliminated arizonensis from their list of accepted subspecies.

Richmond and Jockusch (2007) and Richmond et al. (2011) treated the three lineages of P. gilberti as a single species, based on extensive introgressive hybridization between two of the forms and the lack of prezygotic isolation between members of all pairs of them. Accordingly, de Quieroz and Reeder (in Crother 2012) treated the lineages as a single species.

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