TitleA multitude of spots! Five new microendemic species of the Cnemaspis gracilis group (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from massifs in the Shevaroy landscape, Tamil Nadu, India
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsAgarwal I, Thackeray T, Khandekar A
JournalVertebrate Zoology
Date Published12/2022

South Asian Cnemaspis are one of the most diverse clades of gekkonids in South Asia with their highest diversity in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. These geckos include only a few nocturnal species and are largely diurnal or cathemeral and restricted to relatively cool habitats. One of the prominently diurnal subgroups in South Asian Cnemaspis is the bangara clade, which includes six species distributed in southern India on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats, the southern Eastern Ghats and Palghat Gap. In this paper, we describe five more species of the bangara clade from the Shevaroyan landscape, including three from Kollimalai and one each from Yercaud and Pachaimalai, all in Tamil Nadu. These new species show 4.6–19.7 % uncorrected sequence divergence on the mitochondrial ND2 gene from each other and known species of the bangara clade and are morphologically diagnosable in body size, the number of paravertebral tubercles between limb insertions, the number of dorsal tubercle rows, the number of ventral scale rows across the belly, the number of femoral and precloacal pores and poreless scales separating these series, and aspects of colouration. The discovery of these five new species adds to the growing discoveries of cool-adapted species in southern India outside the Western Ghats and highlights the role of sky-islands in diversification. The Shevaroyan landscape shows high levels of microendemism with eight species distributed in an area of < 2000 km2, and all these species restricted to much smaller areas of actual distribution. With an area of < 500 km2 respectively, the massif of Pachaimalai has a single endemic and the massifs of Yercaud and Kollimalai have three endemic Cnemaspis species each.