Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access


A new species of lizard in the genus Caledoniscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) from far northwest New Caledonia



A new species of skink in the genus Caledoniscincus is described from the far north-west region of New Caledonia. It is known from a single location, the isolated ultramafic massif of Dôme de Tiébaghi, north of Koumac. The new species, Caledoniscincus pelletieri sp. nov., has a bold, white mid-lateral stripe on the body, a feature which distinguishes it from most other species of Caledoniscincus except the regionally sympatric Caledoniscincus haplorhinus (Günther) and Caledoniscincus austrocaledonicus (Bavay), and the recently described Caledoniscincus constellatus Sadlier, Whitaker, Wood & Bauer just to the south. The new species can be distinguished from these taxa in features of scalation and colouration, most notably in lacking an extension of the pale midlateral stripe between the ear and forelimbs and in having more lamellae on the underside of the fourth toe. The differences in morphology between C. pelletieri sp. nov. and the other members of the genus are complemented by a high level of genetic differentiation, further supporting its distinctiveness as an independent evolutionary lineage warranting recognition as a distinct species. The DNA sequence data for the ND2 mitochondrial gene identifies the new species as the sister to C. constellatus and these two taxa as the sister to all Caledoniscincus. The species is of extremely high conservation concern given its restricted distribution in an area that is currently being heavily impacted by human activities, and it satisfies the IUCN criteria to be ranked as a Critically Endangered species.


Reptilia, Scincidae, New Caledonia, Endangered

Full Text:

PDF/A (7.18 MB)


Bauer, A.M., Jackman, T., Sadlier, R.A. & Whitaker, A.H. (2006) A revision of the Bavayia validiclavis group (Squamata: Gekkota: Diplodactylidae), a clade of New Caledonian geckos exhibiting microendemism. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 57, 503–547.

Bauer, A.M., Jackman, T.R., Sadlier, R.A. & Whitaker, A.H. (2012) Revision of the giant geckos of New Caledonia (Reptilia: Diplodactylidae: Rhacodactylus). Zootaxa, 3404, 1–52.

Bonnaud, E., Medina, F.M., Vidal, E., Nogales, M., Tershy, B., Zavaleta, E., Donlan, C.J., Keitt, B., Corre, M. le & Horwath, S.V. (2011) The diet of feral cats on islands: a review and call for more studies. Biological invasions, 13, 581–603.

De Queiroz, K. (1998) The general lineage concept of species, species criteria, and the process of speciation. In: Howard, D.J. & Berlocher, S.H. (Eds.), Endless Forms: Species and Speciation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 57–75.

Drummond, A.J. & Rambaut, A. (2006) BEAST v1.4. Available from: (accessed 15 April 2014)

Drummond, A.J., Ashton, B., Buxton, S., Cheung, M., Cooper, A., Duran, C., Field, M., Heled, J., Kearse, M., Markowitz, S., Moir, R., Stones-Havas, S., Sturrock, S., Thierer, T. & Wilson, A. (2011) Geneious v5.4. Available from: (accessed 15 April 2014)

Huelsenbeck, J. & Ronquist, F. (2001) MRBAYES: Bayesian inference of phylogeny. Bioinformatics, 17, 754–755.

IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, ii + 30 pp.

Jourdan, H., Sadlier, R.A. & Bauer, A.M. (2001) Little fire ant invasion (Wasmannia auropunctata) as a threat to New Caledonian lizards: evidences from a sclerophyll forest (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology, 38, 1–19.

Macey, J.J., Larson, A., Ananjeva, N.B., Fang, Z. & Papenfuss, T.J. (1997) Two novel gene orders and the role of light-strand replication in rearrangment of the vertebrate mitochondrial genome. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 14, 91–104.

Maddison, D.R. & Maddison, W.P. (2005) MacClade: Analysis of Phylogeny and Character Evolution. v4.08. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts.

Mathieu-Daudé, J. (Ed.) (1992) Atlas de Nouvelle Calédonie. Deuxième Édition. Editions du Cagou, Nouméa, 91 pp.

Mayden, R.L. (1997) A hierarchy of species concepts: the denouement in the saga of the species problem. In: Claridge, M.F., Dawah, H.A. & Wilson, M.R. (Eds.), Species: The Units of Biodiversity. Chapman and Hall, New York, pp. 381–424.

Medina, F.M., Bonnaud, E., Vidal, E., Tershy, B., Zavaleta, E., Donlan, C.J., Keitt, B., Corre, M. le, Horwath, S.V. & Nogales, M. (2011) A global review of the impacts of invasive cats on island endangered vertebrates. Global Change Biology, 17, 3503–3510.

Mittermeier, R.A., Werner, T.B. & Lees, A. (1996) New Caledonia — a conservation imperative for an ancient land. Oryx, 30 (2), 104–112.

Mittermeier, R.A., Bouchet, P., Bauer, A.M., Werner, T.B. & Lees, A. (1999) New Caledonia. In: Mittermeier, R.A., Myers, N. & Mittermeier, C.G. (Eds.), Hotspots: Earth’s Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions. CEMEX, Mexico City, Mexico, pp. 366–377.

Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., Da Fonseca, G.A.B. & Kent, J. (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403, 853–858.

Nylander, J.A.A., Wilgenbusch, J.C., Warren, D.L. & Swofford, D.L. (2008) AWTY (are we there yet?): a system for graphical exploration of MCMC convergence in Bayesian phylogenetics. Bioinformatics, 24, 581–583.

Pascal, M., de Forges, B.R., le Guyader, H. & Simberloff, D. (2008) Mining and other threats to the New Caledonia biodiversity hotspot. Conservation Biology, 22, 498–499.

Posada, D. & Crandall, K.A. (1998) Modeltest: testing the model of DNA substitution. Bioinformatics, 14, 817–818.

Ronquist, F. & Huelsenbeck, J.P. (2003) MRBAYES 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models. Bioinformatics, 19, 1572–1574.

Sadlier, R.A. (1986) A review of the scincid lizards of New Caledonia. Records of the Australian Museum, 39, 1–66.

Sadlier, R.A. (2010) Systematic Studies of the Scincid Lizards of New Caledonia. PhD. Dissertation, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, 199 pp.

Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M. & Colgan, D.J. (1999) The scincid lizard genus Caledoniscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) from New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific: a review of Caledoniscincus austrocaledonicus (Bavay) and description of six new species from Province Nord. Records of the Australian Museum, 51, 57–82.

Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M., Whitaker, A.H. & Smith, S.A. (2004) Two New Species of Scincid Lizards (Squamata) from the Massif de Kopéto, New Caledonia. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 55, 208–221.

Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M., Wood, P.L. Jr., Smith, S.A. & Jackman, T. (2013) A new species of lizard in the genus Caledoniscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) from southern New Caledonia and a review of Caledoniscincus atropunctatus (Roux). Zootaxa, 3694 (6), 501–524.

Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M., Wood, P.L. Jr., Smith, S.A., Whitaker, A.H. & Jackman, T. (2014a) Cryptic speciation in cryptic skinks: a molecular phylogeny of the New Caledonian lizard genus Nannoscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) and recognition of two new species. Zoologia Neocaledonica 8. Mémoires du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. [in press]

Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M., Wood, P.L. Jr., Smith, S.A., Whitaker, A.H., Jourdan, H. & Jackman, T. (2014b) Localized endemism in the southern ultramafic bio–region of New Caledonia as evidenced by the scincid lizards in the genus Sigaloseps (Reptilia: Scincidae), with a description of four new species. Zoologia Neocaledonica 8. Mémoires du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. [in press]

Sadlier, R.A., Smith, S.A., Bauer, A.M. & Whitaker, A.H. (2009) Three new species of skink in the genus Marmorosphax Sadlier (Squamata: Scincidae) from New Caledonia, In: Grandcolas, P. (Ed.), Zoologia Neocaledonica 7. Biodiversity studies in New Caledonia. Mémoires du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, 198, 373–390.

Sadlier, R.A., Whitaker, A.H., Wood, P.L. Jr. & Bauer, A.M. (2012) A new species of scincid lizard in the genus Caledoniscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) from northwest New Caledonia. Zootaxa, 3229, 47–57.

Smith, S.A., Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M., Austin, C.C. & Jackman, T. (2007) Molecular phylogeny of the scincid lizards of New Caledonia and adjacent areas: Evidence for a Single Origin of the endemic skinks of Tasmantis. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 43, 1151–1166.

Stamatakis, A., Hoover, P. & Rougemont, J. (2008) A rapid bootstrap algorithm for the RAxML web servers. Systematic Biology, 57, 758–771.

Swofford, D.L. (2002) Paup* Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony (and Other Methods) Version 4.0. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts.

Towns, D.R., Atkinson, I.A.E. & Daugherty, C.H. (2006) Have the harmful effects of introduced rats on islands been exaggerated? Biological invasions, 8, 863–891.

Whitaker, A.H. (1978) The effects of rodents on reptiles and amphibians. In: Dingwall, P.R., Atkinson, I.A.E. & Hay, C. (Eds.), The Ecology and Control of Rodents in New Zealand Nature Reserves. New Zealand Department of Lands and Survey Information, Series No. 4., pp. 5–88.

Whitaker, A.H., Sadlier, R.A., Bauer, A.M. & Whitaker, V.A. (2004) Biodiversity and Conservation Status of Lizards in Threatened and Restricted Habitats of North–Western New Caledonia. Report by Whitaker Consultants Limited to Direction du Développement Économique et de l’Environnement, Province Nord, Koné, New Caledonia, vi + 105 pp.

Wilcox, T.P., Zwickl, D.J., Heath, T.A. & Hillis, D.M. (2002) Phylogenetic relationships of the dwarf boas and a comparison of Bayesian and bootstrap measures of phylogenetic support. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 25, 361–371.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN 1175-5326 (Print Edition) & ISSN 1175-5334 (Online Edition)
Published by Magnolia Press, Auckland, New Zealand
A founding journal of Biotaxa