Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

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Europe
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Shared by : Arushi Madan (UK)
Region : Europe
Status : EN (Endangered)
Introduction
The Aran rock lizard is a medium sized lizard. Males can reach a length of up to 62 mm, females up to 67 mm. The greyish-brown skin is patterned with two rows of dark spots running down each side of the back. These spots are bordered by a lighter area, which contrasts with the darker colour of the lizard’s sides During the harsh, cold winter months in the Pyrenees, the Aran rock lizard hibernates, and is only active for four months of the year, from mid-May to late September or the beginning of October. This leaves little time for the lizard to reproduce, and as a result only one clutch of eggs is produced each year. Geographical distribution: It is found in France and Spain. It is found in a small area on the Spanish-French border. Endemic to the Mauberme massif, including its foothills between the Val d'Aran in Spain and the Ariège in France, Habitat/ Territory: The Aran rock lizard occurs in rocky alpine habitats between 1,900 and 2,500 metres above sea level. These rocky areas at the edges of alpine meadows (except summer) are blanketed in snow. It’s other natural habitats are temperate grassland and pastureland.
Causes/Threats
It is threatened by habitat loss. The rocky alpine habitat of the Aran rock lizard is currently threatened by overgrazing by cattle and may face further pressure in the future from the development of ski resorts and the associated building of roads and tracks. Poaching those that are already protected to sell on the black market for the pet trade, also trapping, and hunting for food, in some areas where their meat is considered a delicacy and their skin is highly prized. Also, pollution is a major factor for many lizards. Their skin can absorb chemicals easily, and insects are often exposed to pesticides, causing them to ingest poisons. Lizards are very sensitive to toxins, and pollutants in their environment, and even small amounts of chemicals can have lasting affects for many species. The IUCN, who assessed the conservation status of this lizard, also state the possible development of hydroelectric projects and mining as a future threat to this species. The low reproductive potential of the Aran rock lizard and its restricted distribution only act to enhance the devastating effects that such threats may have on the population. These factors can act alone, or together creating multiple stresses on species populations, and cause it to decline into small fragmented groups. Conservation/Restoration
Efforts
The Aran rock lizard is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention, a convention which aims to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to promote European co-operation in that field. Wild animal species on Appendix III are protected, but can be exploited if regulated in accordance with the convention. It is yet to be seen whether this level of protection is sufficient to ensure the survival of this endangered reptile.

Sources/References :
1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
2. Arnold, N. and Ovenden, D. (2002) A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
3. Arribas, O.J. and Galán, P. (2005) Reproductive characteristics of the Pyrenean high-mountain lizards: Iberolacerta aranica (Arribas, 1993), I. aurelioi (Arribas, 1994) and I. bonnali (Lantz, 1927). Animal Biology, 55(2): 163 - 190.
4. Council of Europe: Bern Convention (March, 2008)
5. Valentin Pérez-Mellado Marc Cheylan Patrick Haffner (2009). "Iberolacerta aranica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 14 March 2014
6. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/species/redlist/downloads/European_reptiles.pdf
7. earthsendangered.com
8. http://www.arkive.org/aran-rock-lizard/iberolacerta-aranica/
9. https://www.speciesplus.net/

Image credit: © Jeroen Speybroeck http://www.hylawerkgroep.be/jeroen

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