Wednesday, May 3, 2017

[Herpetology • 2017] Reinstatement of Varanus douarrha Lesson, 1830 As A Valid Species with Comments on the Zoogeography of Monitor Lizards (Squamata : Varanidae) in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea

Varanus douarrha Lesson, 1830 

Weijola, Kraus, Vahtera, Lindqvist & Donnellan, 2017 
Reinstatement of Varanus douarrha as a valid species ....  DOI: 10.1071/ZO16038 


The distribution and taxonomy of varanid lizards occurring in the Bismarck Archipelago is revised on the basis of field surveys, examination of museum vouchers and molecular phylogenetic analyses. A total of four species is recorded: Varanus indicus and Varanus finschi on New Britain and some of its offshore islands, Varanus douarrha on New Ireland, Lavongai and Djaul, and Varanus semotus on Mussau Island. V. douarrha, previously mistaken for both V. indicus and V. finschi, is shown to be the only species represented on New Ireland and is here resurrected as a valid taxon based on an integrated approach combining morphological and molecular evidence. Phylogenetic analyses of two mitochondrial genes suggest that V. indicus is a relatively recent immigrant to the Bismarck Islands, whereas V. douarrha, V. finschi and V. semotus have significantly longer histories in the island group. Together with the recently described V. semotus the revalidation of V. douarrha doubles the number of species known to occur in the Bismarck region and highlights an important component of both local and regional endemism.

 Keywords: endemism, neotype, New Ireland, taxonomy, Varanus indicus, Varanus finschi.

Etymology: According to Lesson, the specific name douarrha was the local word for this species in Port Praslin. During fieldwork on New Ireland in 2012 VW interviewed a native speaker of the Siar-Lak language, which is what is spoken at Port Praslin. According to this local informant, the Siar-Lak word for ‘monitor’ is ‘kailam’. The word for the emerald tree skink, Lamprolepis smaragdina, is ‘dawar’, and it is possible that the words for these different species were confused by Lesson or that the application of local names has changed since his visit. Given current orthography for Siar-Lak (see, it is clear that Lesson’s name was intended as a translitteration into French of the Siar-Lak name as he heard it.Words in Siar-Lak have the accent placed on the final syllable; hence, the name should be pronounced ‘dwah-rah’.

Valter Weijola, Fred Kraus, Varpu Vahtera, Christer Lindqvist and Stephen C. Donnellan. 2017. Reinstatement of Varanus douarrha Lesson, 1830 As A Valid Species with Comments on the Zoogeography of Monitor Lizards (Squamata : Varanidae) in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. Australian Journal of Zoology.  DOI: 10.1071/ZO16038

  Long lost monitor lizard 're-discovered' on Papua New Guinean island @physorg_com

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