Monday, May 15, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Tribolonotus parkeri & T. choiseulensis • Two New Species of Crocodile Skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Tribolonotus) from the Solomon Archipelago

 Tribolonotus parkeri  
Rittmeyer & Austin, 2017  


We describe two new species of the scincid lizard genus Tribolonotus from the islands of Buka and Choiseul in the Solomon Archipelago, closely related to, and previously included within, T. pseudoponceleti. One species, Tribolonotus parkeri sp. nov., is endemic to Buka Island and was revealed in our previous study via taxonomically focused analyses of both next-generation sequencing data and morphology. Here, we also further support the validity of this species by more taxonomically comprehensive Bayesian species delimitation of three Sanger sequenced nuclear loci. The second species, Tribolonotus choiseulensis sp. nov., is endemic to Choiseul Island and was revealed by an expanded morphological data analysis. These results suggest that numerous other species found on multiple island groups in the Solomon Archipelago may similarly represent complexes of multiple, closely related species, and that the biodiversity of the region is vastly underestimated.

Keywords: Buka Island, Choiseul Island, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tribolonotus pseudoponceleti, Reptilia

FIGURE 5. Photograph of an adult male paratype of Tribolonotus parkeri sp. nov. (LSUMZ 93500) in life. 

Tribolonotus parkeri sp. nov.

Distribution. Tribolonotus parkeri sp. nov. is only known from Buka Island, North Solomons Province, Papua New Guinea (geologically and biogeographically part of the Solomon Archipelago; Fig. 1).

Etymology. The specific epithet was chosen to honor Fred Parker in recognition of his substantial contributions to herpetology in Papua New Guinea, and his collections of much of the type series of the species.

Tribolonotus choiseulensis sp. nov.

Distribution. Tribolonotus choiseulensis sp. nov. is currently known only from the northwestern tip of Choiseul Island, Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands (Fig. 1). However, we suspect that this apparently restricted distribution on Choiseul is an artifact of limited sampling, and that T. choiseulensis sp. nov. likely occurs in suitable habitats throughout the island. 

Etymology. The specific epithet refers to the type locality on Choiseul Island, Solomon Islands, and its status as the only currently known species of the genus Tribolonotus endemic to the island. 

Eric N. Rittmeyer and Christopher C Austin. 2017. Two New Species of Crocodile Skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Tribolonotus) from the Solomon Archipelago.
 Zootaxa. 4268(1); 71–87.   DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4268.1.4

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