|Batu Caves Bent-toed Gecko | Cyrtodactylus metropolis|
Grismer, Wood, Chan, Anuar & Muin, 2014
Cyrtodactylus metropolis sp. nov. from Batu Caves massif, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia is differentiated from all congeners by having a unique suite of morphological and color pattern characteristics. Remarkably, this species has been overlooked despite a plethora of field studies at Batu Caves from 1898 to the present and no specimens had ever been examined until now. As with all other limestone forest-adapted Cyrtodactylus in Peninsular Malaysia, C. metropolis sp. nov. is not a cave-adapted species but is far more common on the exterior surfaces of the Batu Caves limestone massif and its surrounding limestone vegetation. We suggest that researchers devote time exploring the exterior surfaces of limestone massifs as well the interiors of their caves.
Keywords: new species, Cyrtodactylus, karst, limestone, conservation, endemic biodiversity, Batu Caves, Peninsular Malaysia
Cyrtodactylus metropolis new species
Gymnodactylus pulchellus Boulenger 1903:148, Boulenger 1912:37
Cyrtodactylus sp. Moseley, Lim & Lim 2012:79
Etymology. The specific epithet metropolis is a noun in apposition and refers to the fact that this endemic species is found in a highly urbanized area near the heart of the largest metropolitan center of Peninsular Malaysia.
Distribution. Cyrtodactylus metropolis sp. nov. is known only from the Batu Caves massif (Fig. 4). It is expected not to be found elsewhere , as there is no known limestone forest in the near vicinity.
Natural history. Nineteen lizards were observed at night on karst and in the surrounding limestone forest vegetation up to two meters above the ground (Fig. 5). Cyrtodactylus metropolis sp. nov. is an extremely wary species that flees at the slightest provocation. In nearly all cases, lizards retreated to the base of a tree or rock and sought refuge in accumulated debris. One lizard ran nearly two meters along a narrow branch to reach the base of a fern, although other apparently suitable retreats were much closer. This suggests that the lizard had spatial awareness of its surroundings and periodically used that particular retreat. Juveniles were observed but hatchings and gravid females were not, indicating that this species breeds prior to July.
The abundance of Cyrtodactylus metropolis sp. nov. on the exterior of the Batu Caves massif and its rare occurrence in Dark Cave suggests it is not a cave-adapted species but will on occasion enter deeper regions. We have observed the same behavior in the limestone forest species C. astrum Grismer, Wood, Quah, Anuar, Muin, Sumontha, Norhayati, Bauer, Wangkulangkul, & Pauwels, C. langkawiensis Grismer, Wood, Quah, Anuar, Muin, Sumontha, Norhayati, Bauer, Wangkulangkul, & Pauwels, (Grismer et al. 2012) and C. guakanthanensis Grismer, Belabut, Quah, Chan, Wood, & Hasim (Grismer et al. 2014). It is likely the cave ecosystems are too depauperate in prey resources and vegetation to support the density levels of these species observed outside the caves.
Grismer, L. L., Wood, P. L., Jr., Chan, K. O., Anuar, S., and Mohd A. Muin. 2014. Cyrts in the City: A New Bent-toed Gecko (Genus Cyrtodactylus) is the Only Endemic Species of Vertebrate from Batu Caves, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia. Zootaxa. 3774(4): 381–394.
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