occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) The range is primarily west of the Cascade-Sierra Nevada crest from south-central Washington and north-central Oregon (mainly west of Cascade crest) south through western Oregon and California to northern Baja California, including islands off southern California and northern Baja California (Stebbins 2003). Isolated populations exist east of the Sierra Nevada at Grant Lake, Mono County, California; Alabama Hills and Walker Pass, Kern County, California; Walker Creek near Olancha, Inyo County, California, and along the Mojave River, California; there is also an isolated occurrence at Sierra La Asamblea, Baja California Sur (Stebbins 2003). The species was introduced at Las Vegas, Nevada (Stebbins 2003). Unconfirmed sight record at Boulder Beach Campground, Clark County, Nevada (Stebbins 2003). DNA data suggest that the population on San Nicolas Island, California, may have been recently transported there (Mahoney et al. 2003). Elevational range is from sea level to around 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) (Stebbins 2003).
Distribution: USA (Washington, Oregon, California), Mexico (Baja California) ignava: San Martin Island, Baja California nana: Los Coronados Island, Baja California.
Type locality: South island, Los Coronados Island, Baja California. webbii: S California, N Baja California.
Type locality: “San Diego to El Paso”. Restrcited to San Diego, California, by SMITH & TAYLOR 1950.
Length: 43 cm
Catalog Number: USNM 9057
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Locality: No Further Locality Data, Oregon, United States, North America
- Holotype: Baird, S. F. & Girard, C. 1852. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia. 6: 176.
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Habitats are diverse and include grassland, chaparral, oak woodland, and open pine forest; in drier regions, the species most often occurs along streams or in other moist, vegetated areas (Stebbins 2003). Microhabitats include logs, thickets, rocks, and old woodpiles and trash heaps around houses (Stebbins 2003). This is a basically terrestrial lizard that sometimes climbs bushes and trees. Egg-laying sites include burrows or stable talus (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
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.
Comments: Eats a wide variety of invertebrates including: slugs, insects, centipedes, scorpions, and spiders. Also eats small vertebrates: lizards, small mammals, and occasionally eggs and young of birds (Stebbins 1985).
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300
Comments: Known from hundreds of locations. Nussbaum et al. (1983) mapped about 90 localities in Washington and Oregon, and Lais (1976) mapped hundreds of collection sites throughout much of California.
100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but surely exceeds 100,000.
Sometimes enters water to escape predators. Eurythermic during activity (J. Herpetol. 27:241-247).
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Inactive during the coldest weather, but active over a wide range of temperatures (body temperatures of about 9-34 C) (Kingsbury, 1994, Herpetologica 50:266-273). Primarily diurnal, except during warmer parts of the year when it may be partly nocturnal (Stebbins 1985).
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Lays 1-3 clutches May-July (Stebbins 1985). Clutch size varies with the size of the female but usually is 5-20. Hatchlings emerge around September or October (Nussbaum et al. 1983).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)
Comments: The trend in extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, and abundance is likely relatively stable, with localized declines not posing a threat to the species.
Global Long Term Trend: Increase of 10-25% to decline of 30%
Comments: Commercial and residential development have caused localized declines, but many populations exist in remote areas, and the species is tolerant of a modest amount of habitat alteration.
Global Protection: Very many (>40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Southern Alligator Lizard
The Southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata) is a lizard native to the Pacific coast of North America. It is common throughout Southern California and can be found in grasslands, chaparral, and forests as well as urban areas. In dry climates, it is likely to be found in moist areas or near streams. Three subspecies can be distinguished: the California alligator lizard (E. m. multicarinata), the San Diego alligator lizard (E. m. webbii), and the Oregon alligator lizard (E. m. scincicauda). (Stebbins, 2003)
The southern alligator lizard has a long prehensile tail, up to twice the length of its body. Like many lizards, however, it can drop its tail if attacked, possibly giving it a chance to flee; the tail will regenerate, but will never be as long or richly colored as the original. Individuals with intact tails can reach up to about 50 cm in total length.
The lizards can frequently be found near human habitation and are notable for their fearless self-defense; they will often bite and defecate if handled. In the wild they eat small arthropods, slugs, lizards, small mammals and occasionally young birds and eggs. (Stebbins, 2003)
Southern Alligator Lizard, Central Valley
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Elgaria multicarinata|
- "Elgaria multicarinata". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=209020. Retrieved 6 February 2006.
- Stebbins, Robert (2003):331. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-98272-3
- Ventura Highway
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Elgaria multicarinata formerly was included in the genus Gerrhonotus (see Good 1988).
Populations along the central Baja California coast, formerly included in this species, were reassigned to E. paucicarinata (Grismer 1988). Some authors have suggested that E. multicarinata and E. paucicarinata should be considered conspecific; however, Good (1988) concluded that paucicarinata is more closely allied with E. kingii.
Five intergrading subspecies have been recently recognized: ingava, multicarinata, nana, scincicauda, and webbii).
Molecular data support recognition of the family Anniellidae and anguid subfamilies Gerrhonotinae and Anguinae as monophyletic groups (Macey et al. 1999).
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