Revision of the Lerista muelleri species-group (Lacertilia: Scincidae) in Western Australia, with a redescription of L. muelleri (Fischer, 1881) and the description of nine new species

WA Museum Records and Supplements | Updated 6 years ago

ABSTRACT – The Australian scincid genus Lerista comprises more than 80 species of small semifossorial and fossorial lizards. Most species are found in arid and semiarid regions. These species are divided into species groups which are largely diagnosed by their digital formulae. Most L. muelleri species group members have a digital formula of three fingers and three toes, some four fingers and four toes. Only one species has two fingers and three toes. Hitherto L. muelleri has been considered a single pancontinental species which, together with L. aIlochira and L. haroldi, comprised the relatively small L. muelleri species group within the speciose genus Lerista. A detailed examination of morphological and genetic variation in Western Australian specimens has indicated that species-level diversity within the L. muelleri species group has been greatly underestimated. Here, 13 species are recognised: the previously described L. allochira (Kendrick 1989), L. haroldi (Storr 1983), L. muelleri (Fischer 1881) and L. rhodonoides (Lucas and Frost 1896; resurrected from the synonymy of L. muelleri) plus nine new species: L. amicorum sp. nov., L. clara sp. nov., L. jacksoni sp. nov., L. kingi sp. nov., L. micra sp. nov., L. nevinae sp. nov., L. occulta sp. nov., L. rolfei sp. nov. and L. verhmens sp. nov. Lerista goerlingi (Ahl 1935) is retained in the synonymy of L. rhodonoides. Support for the validity of eleven of the thirteen species is demonstrated using allozyme analysis of 114 specimens at 46 loci. Lerista mueIleri (sensu stricto) is shown to be restricted to the Pilbara plateau and its rocky outliers in northwest Western Australia. One of the two syntypes of L. muelleri that were considered lost has recently been rediscovered and is nominated as lectotype.

Author(s) L.A. Smith and M. Adams
Records 23 : Part 4
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