dunes sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus)
The dunes sagebrush lizard is a small, light brown phrynosomatid lizard (family Phrynosomatidae, genus Sceloporus) with a maximum snout-to-vent length of 70 millimeters (mm) (2.8 inches (in)) for females and 65 mm (2.6 in) for males (Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 160). Sabath (1960, p. 22) first described the occurrence of light-colored sagebrush lizards in southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. Kirkland L. Jones collected the type specimen for Sceloporus arenicolus on April 27, 1968, in eastern Chaves County, New Mexico (Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 159). Degenhardt and Jones (1972, p. 213) described the dunes sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus arenicolus) as a subspecies of the sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus). The dunes sagebrush lizard was elevated to a species in 1992 and this elevation was validated with molecular and morphological evidence in 1997 (Painter et al. 1999, p. 3). Much of the previous literature concerning Sceloporus arenicolus refers to it by the common name of sand dune lizard (e.g., Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 159); however, the currently accepted common name is dunes sagebrush lizard (Crother et al. 2008, p. 39).
- States/US Territories in which the dunes sagebrush Lizard, is known to or is believed to occur: New Mexico , Texas
- US Counties in which the dunes sagebrush Lizard, is known to or is believed to occur: View All
|Status||Date Listed||Lead Region||Where Listed|
|Southwest Region (Region 2)|
» Federal Register Documents
No recovery information is available for the dunes sagebrush Lizard.
» Critical Habitat
No critical habitat rules have been published for the dunes sagebrush Lizard.
» Conservation Plans
|CCA Plan Summaries|
|Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard in NM|
|CCAA Plan Summaries|
|Lesser Prairie Chicken and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard in New Mexico|
» Life History
The dunes sagebrush lizard is considered to be a habitat specialist because it has adapted to thrive only in a narrow range of environmental conditions that exist within shinnery oak dunes. Its survival is directly linked to the quality and quantity of available shinnery oak dune habitat (Fitzgerald et al. 1997, p. 8). Shinnery oak dune habitat is dependent upon the existence of shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) in areas of appropriate sediment availability. The landscape created by the shinnery oak dune community is a spatially dynamic system. Shinnery oak and sand dunes form large dune complexes that are separated by flat areas without dunes called shinnery oak flats. It would be feasible to find dunes sagebrush lizards in shinnery oak flats that are adjacent to occupied dunes. Suitable habitat is separated by a mosaic of habitat types within or near the range of dunes sagebrush lizard. Landforms separating habitat may include mesquite hummocks, grasslands, and tabosa flats that are lacking shinnery oak and dominated by tabosa grass (Hilaria mutica) and scattered mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa).
The large, steep blowouts provide habitat for thermoregulation, foraging, predator avoidance, and the dunes sagebrush lizardís prey base. The diet of the dunes sagebrush lizard includes ants (Order Hymenoptera, Family Formicidae) and their pupae; small beetles (Order Coleoptera), including lady bird beetles (Family Coccinellidae) and their larvae; crickets (Order Orthoptera); grasshoppers (Order Orthoptera); and spiders (Order Araneae) (Degenhardt et al. 1996, p. 160).
Movement / Home Range
The shinnery oak flats are used for movement of females to find nesting sites and for possible dispersal of recent hatchlings (Hill and Fitzgerald 2007, p. 5). Females often utilize more than one dune during the nesting season and have home range sizes of about 436 square meters (m2) (4,693 square feet (ft2)). The largest recorded home range is 2,799.7 m2 (9,185.4 ft2), which includes the movement of the tracked female from her primary home range to her nesting site (Hill and Fitzgerald 2007, p. 5). Females build nest chambers and lay eggs in the moist soil below the surface. Nests have been observed on west-facing, open sand slopes with little to no vegetation, approximately 18 centimeters (7.1 in) below the sand surface (Hill and Fitzgerald 2007, p. 5).
Dunes sagebrush lizards are active between March and October and are dormant underground during the colder winter months. Mating has been observed in April and May (Sena 1985, p. 17). Females produce one to two clutches per year, with three to five eggs per clutch. Hatchlings appear between July and September (Hill and Fitzgerald 2007, p. 2; Sena 1985, p. 6).
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