Friday, February 17, 2012

[Herpetology • 2012] Potamites montanicola • A new species of Andean semiaquatic lizard of the genus Potamites (Sauria, Gymnophtalmidae) from southern Peru

A male Potamites montanicola, a new species of lizard discovered in the Peruvian Andes. 
Photo: German Chávez.

We describe a new lizard species of the genus Potamites from the montane forests of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba (Cusco region) and Apurimac River valley (Ayacucho region), between 1500 and 2000 meters of elevation, in southern Peru. The new species is distinguishable from all other species of the genus mainly byhighly keeled scattered scales on dorsum and females lacking femoral pores.

Keywords: Potamites, Cusco, Ayacucho, Peru

Figure 1. Potamites montanicola, new species from southern Peru. 
A: Holotype male (CORBIDI 08322); B: female (CORBIDI 08328); C: uncollected juvenile; D: ventral view of males of the type series, from left to right: CORBIDI 08324, CORBIDI 08322 (holotype), CORBIDI 08325, CORBIDI 08326, CORBIDI 08335

A female Potamites montanicola, a new species of lizard discovered in the Peruvian Andes.
Photo: German Chávez.

Etymology: The specific epithet ‘montanicola’ is a compound from the spanish word “montano”, adjective to describe something from a mountain, and the latin suffix “-icola” for “inhabitant” and refers to the montane forests where this species lives.

Distribution and natural history: Potamites montanicola is known from two localities in the Andes in southern Peru (Fig. 5), both separated by 64 km air line and located at the Cordillera de Vilcabamba and Apurimac river valley, the known altitudinal range is between elevations 1570 and 2100 m. The holotype and most of the specimens of the type series were found on the sides of a stream, which were 3 meters wide with stones and rocks as substrate. The vegetation in the area was riverside vegetation mainly composed of: Miconia sp., Gordonia sp. and Guarea sp. and herbs from the family Rubiaceae and Melastomataceae. Climbers (vines and lianas) were diverse and relatively common and include species of the family Celatraceae, Polygalaceae and Campanulaceae. All individuals were found perching on rocks and stones at sides of the stream at night. In some cases, individuals were observed swimming in the middle of the stream, or using the stream to escape. No other lizard species were recorded at the type locality, but on the same stream we observed the vipers Bothriopsis taeniata and Lachesis muta. Amphibians also reported here include Hypsiboas balzani, Hyalinobatrachium bergeri, Osteocephalus mimeticus, Pristimantis rhabdolaemus and Pristimantis mendax. The second locality where Potamites montanicola was collected (specimen CORBIDI 06957) is a secondary forest, close to the Chiquintirca – Cajadela road. In this site, arboreal vegetation includes species of Cecropia sp., and abundant bushes. The specimen CORBIDI 06957 was found during the day near a creek with substrate mainly composed of leaf litter and fallen trunks. In this locality, Potamites montanicola is sympatric with the tropidurid lizard Stenocercus torquatus and the anurans Hyalinobatrachium bergeri, Hypsiboas balzani, Pristimantis mendax and Pristimantis rhabdolaemus. No snakes were reported.

 Potamites species from Peru:
A. Potamites montanicola (CORBIDI, 08324); B. Potamites strangulatus strangulatus from Cordillera de Kampankis, Amazonas, northern Peru (not collected individual). Photo by Alessandro Catenazzi; C. Potamites ecpleopus from Cordillera de Kampankis, Amazonas, northern Peru (CORBIDI 09516). Photo by Alessandro Catenazzi; D. Potamites strangulatus trachodus from Cordillera Escalera, San Martin, northern Peru (CORBIDI 06368). Photo by Pablo J. Venegas.

Chávez, G.; Vásquez, D. 2012: A new species of Andean semiaquatic lizard of the genus Potamites (Sauria, Gymnophtalmidae) from southern Peru. ZooKeys, 168: 31-43. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.168.2048/

Photo: new blue, red, yellow lizard discovered in the Andes