Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zambia

Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zambia

Postby Frank Willems » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:09 pm

Dear all,

new to this forum so hope I'm posting in the right group. I am with Kasanka Trust in Zambia, managing Kasanka National Park, and we have recently also taken on the management of Lavushi Manda National Park. On 5th I came across a highly distinct form of Variable Skink (Mabuya varia) on the high altitude (1500m+) rocks of Lavushi Manda NP. Amazingly, only some hundreds of meters in straight line, the here normal miombo morph occurs. Separation seems purely on habitat (miombo/grassland, even rocky outcrops, vs cliffs and high-altitude fairly bare rocks). Which makes me think we have separate taxa rather than morphs?
Attached pictures of the high-altitude morph from LMNP on 5 March and of a miombo one (very common here; from Kasanka NP, sorry no pics from the same area in LM NP) and the habitat where I found the high altitude one. Note the speckled lips (and head in general) and buff lateral stripes on lower body and tail of the high-altitude morph. Miombo morph: typical glossy blackish with very uniform tawny brown upperside of head.

The peak of these rocks is (apparently) 1811m alt; I've seen several presumable Variable (besides Rainbow and one Sundevall's Writhing Skink, as well as Peter's Ground Agama) up to almost the top of the formation.

Any comments on this morph (e.g. known from other sites?) highly appreciated.

cheers
Frank Willems
frank @ kasanka.com / fwls01 @ gmail.com
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Frank Willems
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:29 pm

Re: Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zam

Postby Fooble » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:36 pm

Welcome Frank.

Thanks for taking the time to post and habitat shots like this are always much appreciated.

I Think it's purely natural variation amongst populations of different micro habitats as seen in many snakes and geckos here in South Africa.

Are you positive about your ID's on both skink's? I don't have any literature with me on hand so can't confirm
Organized crime comes in more forms than one.
User avatar
Fooble
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 5319
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:32 am
Location: Umhlanga, Durban - KZN

Re: Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zam

Postby Westley Price » Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:32 am

Hi Frank

Welcome to the forum and what a great first post.

I also have a feeling that your two skinks might be two different species.

From what I can tell, I think your secnod skink could be Trachylepis maculilabris, the Speckled Lip Skink.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa

Re: Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zam

Postby Frank Willems » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:31 am

Hi Westley,

Thanks for your comments. I'm sure this is not Speckle-lipped Skink, which occurs here but strictly as a forest species, and which is quite different. I've attached a picture of one from Kasanka NP, a very colourful (and "active"!) male, normally they are a slighlt paler brown.

cheers
Frank
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Frank Willems
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:29 pm

Re: Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zam

Postby Frank Willems » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:46 am

In addition to my previous reply:

(Fooble, thanks for your comments as well!)

Didn't manage to catch the high-altitude one and didn't have a field guide with me at that moment, so I might indeed be mis-ID'ing this guy, but then I wouldn't have a clue what it is.... the other (vaguely similar) species that i know to occur here in the region, are Speckle-lipped, Rainbow, Striped (M. striata), Wahlberg's Snake-eyed Skink (Panaspis wahlbergii), and Common Rough-scaled Lizard (Ichnotropis squamulosa) all of which I'm pretty sure they are not. Also checked Branch, Alexander & Marais and Spawls et al (reptiles of E-Africa) but nothing that comes close. Spawls et al gives nice pics of some high-altitude morphs of Variable which are again very different though.

The other thing that strikes me, which I didn't point out yet, is the difference in scaling: very smooth in the miombo one, very rough in the high-altitude one.

thanks again
Frank
Frank Willems
SA Reptiles Member
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:29 pm

Re: Variable Skink Mabuya varia morph from Lavushi Manda Zam

Postby Westley Price » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:04 am

Hi Frank

What I often use is this website:

http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/advanced_search

You can simply type in "Distribution: Zambia" and "Higher Taxa: Lizard" and it will give you a list of all the lizards occurring in Zambia.

The site is not perfect as it's very broad (cannot specify an exact locality) and a few species might be left out, but it's very good in general.

I cannot say that this looks like any other genus that Trachylepis, but the eye does look a bit strange.
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
User avatar
Westley Price
Forum gatekeeper
 
Posts: 4015
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:25 am
Location: South Africa


Return to African Lizards

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron