Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[Herpetology • 2003] Proctoporus sucullucu & P. unsaacae • Using morphological and molecular evidence to infer species boundaries within Proctoporus bolivianus Werner (Squamata: Gymnopthalmidae) in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru

Proctoporus bolivianus is a gymnophthalmid lizard species that occurs at high elevations in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru and Bolivia. Extensive morphological variation in populations collected in the  Department of  Cusco, Peru, suggested the  presence  of  cryptic species. To  assess this possibility, we reconstructed morphological and molecular phylogenies of  13 populations of  this species  and also used a character-based approach to examine the morphology in more detail. We found P. bolivianus to be composed of three distinct lineages that are separated by substantial genetic distances. We  erect two new species to contain unnamed lineages within the P. bolivianus complex. These three species are found within a small geographic area and are likely differentiated because of historical geographic barriers in the extreme landscape of the central Andes. 
Key words:  Andes;  Cryptic  species;  Cusco;  Gymnophthalmidae; New  species;  Peru;  Proctoporus 
bolivianus; Proctoporus sucullucu; Proctoporus unsaacae; South America; Squamata; Taxonomy 

Proctoporus sucullucu  sp. nov. 
Proctoporus sp. 1: Doan, 2003b 
Holotype.- UTA  R-51496 (Fig. 5), a female from Piscacucho (130  12.213'  S,  720 22.533' W),  a small village near the  town of  Chilca, Province of Urubamba, Department of Cusco, Peru; 3191  m; collected  on  4  June 2001  by Wilfredo Arizabal Arriaga.

Etymology.- The  specific epithet, sucullucu,  an  indeclinable  noun,  is  the  name  of Proctoporus  lizards  in the  local  Quechua language. 

Distribution.- Proctoporus  sucullucu  is known only from the  Department  of  Cusco in southern Peru (Fig. 6). We have collected this species  from Piscacucho in  the  west  to Kusilluchayoc in the east. It has been recorded from  3048  m  at  Piscacucho  to  3660  m  at Kusilluchayoc. 
Habitat and ecology.- This  diurnal species was  most  often  found  under  flat stones  in disturbed grassland or pastureland. Little is known  about  its  ecology,  but,  like  other members  of  the  genus,  it  is  probably  insectivorous  and  lays  two  eggs  per  clutch (Uzzell,  1970).  At  Piscacucho,  a  communal nest was found that contained 23  eggs  of P. sucullucu. Several of the eggs had been broken and the embryos were being preyed upon by a  scorpion. When  found,  UTA  R-51497, a  neonate,  was  dead  and  being  eaten  by a scorpion. 

Remarks.- Proctoporus sucullucu occurs on one  of  the  same mountains as P.  bolivianus (Piscacucho), with  P.  sucullucu  consistently occurring at  lower  elevations (3048-3300  m  at  Piscacucho  Low)  than  P.  bolivianus (3590-3600  m at Piscacucho High). Although they  occur  in  close  proximity (within  290  vertical  m),  it  does  not  appear  that  these species come into direct contact. 

Proctoporus unsaacae  sp. nov. 
Proctoporus sp. 2: Doan, 2003b 
Holotype.- UTA  R-51488 (Fig. 7), a female from Quello Uno  (13? 21.887'  S, 71? 58.215' W), a village near the town of Calca, Province of Calca, Department of Cusco, Peru; 3253 m; collected on 31 May 2001 by Tiffany M. Doan.

Habitat and  ecology.- This  lizard species was  found  exclusively  in  human-disturbed areas and often  in Incan ruins. This diurnal species was most often found under flat stones or  in  human-made  piles  of  small  pebbles. Little  is  known  about  the  ecology  of  this species but, like other members of its genus, it is probably insectivorous and lays two eggs per clutch (Uzzell, 1970). 
Etymology.- The  specific  epithet  is  an indeclinable noun in honor of the herpetological research group at the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad de Cusco, a university in  Cusco,  Peru,  commonly  referred  to  as UNSAAC. The  students  and  research associates of that group have contributed much to 
the knowledge of Andean herpetofauna. Many of  them  have  assisted us  in  our studies and collected some of the paratypes and referred specimens of this species. 

FIG. 6.- Elevational  contour map, including the localities  of the  Proctoporus bolivianus complex in southern Peru. Sampling localities are marked with circles; the city of  Cusco  is  indicated  by  a  square.  The locality  of Piscacucho is  composed  of  both  Piscacucho High  and Piscacucho  Low  sites,  separated  by  300-550  m  in elevation. 

Doan, T. M. & Castoe, T.A. 2003. Using morphological and molecular evidence to infer species boundaries within Proctoporus bolivianus Werner (Squamata: Gymnopthalmidae). Herpetologica 59 (3): 432–449