Tuesday, June 4, 2019

[Herpetology • 2019] Cnemaspis godagedarai • A New Species of Endemic Day Gecko (Reptilia: Gekkonidae: Cnemaspis) from A Wet Zone Forest in the Second Peneplain of Southern Sri Lanka

Cnemaspis godagedarai
Silva, Bauer, Botejue & Karunarathna, 2019

A new day gecko species of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 is described from a geographically separated forested area in Ensalwatte, Matara district, Sri Lanka. This species is medium (34–35mm SVL) in size and can be differentiated from all other Sri Lankan congeners by a suite of distinct morphometric, meristic, and color characters. The species is recorded from rock outcrop habitats in wet, cool, and shady forest with minimal anthropogenic disturbance at low-elevations (below 860 m). Existing data suggest this gecko is a point endemic. Being a rupicolous microhabitat specialist with a scansorial mode of life, this species is susceptible to both localized and widespread threats. Therefore, isolated forest patches warrant special conservation action, including habitat protection, in-depth research, and species-specific hands-on management practices. 

Keywords. Conservation, critically endangered, microhabitat, natural history, point endemic, redlist, Sri Lankan warrior, threats

Fig. 3. Cnemaspis godagedarai sp. nov. male holotype (NMSL 2019.09.01.NH) in life in situ. (A) Dorsolateral view of the full body displaying color pattern. (B) Lateral view with temporal coloration.
Photos: Chen Lee.

Cnemaspis godagedarai sp. nov. 

 Godagedaras’ Day Gecko (English) 
Godagedarage Diva-seri Hoona (Sinhala) 
Godagedaravin Pahalpalli (Tamil)

Diagnosis: Cnemaspis godagedarai sp. nov., can be readily distinguished from its Sri Lankan congeners by the following combination of morphological and meristic characteristics and color pattern: maximum SVL 35.5 mm; dorsum with homogeneous, smooth, granular scales; 2/2 supranasals; one internasal and 1/1 postnasal present; 26– 28 interorbital scales present; 14–15 supraciliaries, 11–12 canthal scales, 24–26 eye to tympanum scales; three enlarged postmentals; postmentals bounded by 5–6 chin scales; chin and gular scales smooth, juxtaposed granules; pectoral and abdominal scales smooth, subimbricate; 21– 23 belly scales across venter; 5–6 weakly developed tubercles on posterior fank; 101–106 paravertebral granules linearly arranged; precloacal pores absant in males, 12–13 femoral pores in males and 8–9 unpored interfemoral scales in males; 133–137 ventral scales; 98–102 midbody scales; subcaudals smooth, large subhexagonal, subequal in width, in a regular series forming a median row; 7–8 supralabials; 7–8 infralabials; 17–18 subdigital lamellae on digit IV of manus, and 20–21 subdigital lamellae on digit IV of pes.

Etymology: The specific epithet is an eponym Latinized (godagedarai) in the masculine genitive singular, honoring Sri Lankan warrior Godagedara Rate Adhikaram for his valiant feats in the Great Rebellion of 1817–1818, which was initiated in Uva-Wellassa.

Fig. 1. Currently known distribution of Cnemaspis godagedarai sp. nov. (Ensalwatte, star), and related species: C. gemunu (Haggala, circle), C. phillipsi (Gammaduwa, triangle), and C. scalpensis (Gannoruwa, square) in Sri Lanka.
Photos: Suranjan Karunarathna.

Habitat and ecology: The Ensalwatte forest area is a Mesua-Doona-dominated tropical evergreen rainforest ~150 ha in size (Gunatileke and Gunatileke 1990), located in the lowland wet zone of southern Sri Lanka (near Deniyaya, Mathara District, Southern Province). The area ... with an elevation range of 620–860 m (Fig. 4). The mean annual rainfall is 2,500–3,500 mm, received mostly during the southwest monsoon (May-September) season. The mean annual temperature is 22–25 ºC. Only six specimens (four females and two males) were found on scattered boulders. The new species was sympatric (at both local habitat and microsite scales) with several other micro-endemic geckos (Cnemaspis pulchra and Cyrtodactylus subsolanus). No eggs were found in the same habitat. These microhabitats were well-shaded (light intensity 0–587 Lux), relatively moist (relative humidity 73–88%) and cool (rock-surface temperature 25.3–27.5 °C).  

Remarks: Of its insular congeners, Cnemaspis godagedarai sp. nov. most closely resembles C. gemunu, C. phillipsi, and C. scalpensis. The type localities of these species are separated by ~60 km (Hakgala in Central highland), ~95 km (Kandy in Central highland), and ~100 km (Gammaduwa in Knuckles highland) airline distances, respectively, from Ensalwatte in Deniyaya (Fig. 1).  


 Anslem de Silva, Aaron M. Bauer, Madhava Botejue and Suranjan Karunarathna. 2019. A New Species of Endemic Day Gecko (Reptilia: Gekkonidae: Cnemaspis) from A Wet Zone Forest in the Second Peneplain of Southern Sri Lanka. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13(1) [General Section]: 198–208 (e177).