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