Between 19 – 30 May 2018, one of us [AW] discovered a disjunct population of Peninsula leaf-toed geckos, Phyllodactylus nocticolus (Phyllodactylidae) on the northern edge of the Coachella Valley in the Little San Bernardino Mountains of the Transverse Ranges (Fig. 1a). The previously northernmost location for the species is Tahquitz Canyon, Riverside Co. (MVZ 212205) in the Peninsular Ranges 20 km to the south. Southern California has many herp enthusiasts and it is possible that this population is of anthropogenic origin through accidental or misguided purposeful introduction. The apparent barrier to dispersal suggests that, if of natural origin, the dispersal may have occurred at a time when the aeolian sand barrier was less severe. Thus, if this newly discovered population is of natural origin, we expect the genetic data of the disjunct Transverse Ranges population to differ from that of any population sampled in the Peninsular Ranges. Herein we describe this newly discovered population of P. nocticolus, we analyze genetic diversity from the new population, and we compare it with genetic data gathered from populations of P. nocticolus throughout southern California to help determine if this isolated gecko population was of natural dispersal or the result of human intervention. This is particularly noteworthy given the apparent strength of the Coachella Valley’s sand fields as a barrier to dispersal of highly saxicolous lizard faunas.
|Title||Newly documented population extends geographic range and genetic diversity for the Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus nocticolus) into the Transverse Ranges of southern California|
|Authors||Dustin A. Wood, Alyssa Worrel-Black, Robert Black, Anna Mitelberg, Mark Fisher, Robert N. Fisher, A. G. Vandergast, Cameron W. Barrows|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Herpetological Review|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|