Michelle's Lizard: Identity, relationships, and ecological status of an array of parthenogenetic Lizards (Genus Aspidoscelis: Squamata: Teiidae) in Colorado, USA

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Using a shared photograph, we identified a lizard captured by a young naturalist in 1995 in La Junta, Otero County, Colorado, USA, to either triploid parthenogenetic Colorado Checkered Whiptail (Aspidoscelis neotesselata) or diploid parthenogenetic Common Checkered Whiptail (A. tesselata). On 12 August 1997, LJL located the species in question near the original La Junta location. The parthenogenetic species at La Junta represents a new pattern class, A. neotesselata D, identity and distinctiveness of which were verified by both univariate and multivariate statistics. We used other triploid lizards from sites ~100 km apart (i.e., A. neotesselata D from La Junta and A. neotesselata A from Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado) to verify skin histocompatibility, indicating that each group was derived from the same hybridization event. We also identified a tetraploid hybrid of A. neotesselata x A. sexlineata viridis from La Junta. Of the several small patches of habitat that support A. neotesselata D and Prairie Racerunner (A. sexlineata viridis) at La Junta, only a few are elevated above the flood zone of the adjacent Arkansas River. An unusual characteristic of flat parts of La Junta involves the life cycle of Kochia (Kochia scoparia). This tall-growing annual constitutes ~100% of the vegetative structure on these flats from germination in the spring until die-off in the fall/winter. Searches to increase the known range of A. neotesselata D beyond 1 km of La Junta were unsuccessful. We regard the La Junta array of A. neotesselata D as a naturally occurring peripheral isolate. © 2012. James M. Walker. All Rights Reserved.

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