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Strophurus congoo VANDERDUYS, 2016

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Higher TaxaDiplodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Congoo gecko 
SynonymStrophurus congoo VANDERDUYS 2016 
DistributionAustralia (N Queensland)

Type locality: 17 km southeast of Petford, north Queensland, Australia (145°0'00 E, 17°30'00" S)  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: QM J93409, female, collected by E. Vanderduys and A. Reside, 1 November 2013. Paratypes: Collection locations as above. QMJ88502, female collected by E. Vanderduys, 4 May 2009; QMJ93406, male; QMJ93407, male; QMJ93408, female; QMJ93411, male; all collected by E. Vanderduys and A. Reside, 1 November 2013. 
CommentDiagnosis. The new species belongs to the family Diplodactylidae (as defined by Han et al. 2004), and conforms to the genus Strophurus as defined by Greer (1989) in having caudal glands and a conspicuous mouth colour. The new species also conforms in all respects to diagnostic features presented in comprehensive identification guides to Australian reptiles (Wilson & Swan 2013; Cogger 2014) and its antipredator strategies conform with those presented in Melville et al. (2004 as subgenus Strophurus). There is also strong support for Strophurus congoo sp. nov. falling within Strophurus based on genetic data (Oliver, pers. comm.). The presence of precloacal pores in males and the same genetic data suggest Strophurus congoo sp. nov. is a member of the S. ciliaris group (S. krisalys, S. ciliaris, S. wellingtonae (Storr), S. taenicauda (De Vis), S. williamsi, S. intermedius, S. rankini, S. spinigerus (Gray)).
Strophurus congoo sp. nov. is a small (maximum SVL 49.1 mm), short-tailed (TL/SVL 0.45–0.56), faintly patterned or immaculate gecko from northeast Queensland, Australia. Strophurus congoo sp. nov. is readily distinguished from all other Strophurus by the combination of the following characters: its lack of enlarged tubercles, its generally dull pattern, with a scattering of dark grey spots, each occupying a single scale at most, and sometimes a very faint indication of slightly darker brown dorsal reticulations, and often faint longitudinal stripes along the tail. Ventral surface is demarcated from dorsal surface along the lower sides, the ventral surface being paler than the dorsal, usually with scattered darker spots, each occupying a single scale. The colour of the ventral surface of the tail is more strongly demarcated from the dorsal tail surface colour than on the body. Eye colour is cream with a pale brown to orange reticulum through the iris. The mouth lining is pale blue–purple.

Comparison. Strophurus congoo sp. nov. is readily distinguished from all other Strophurus as follows. It differs from from the "spiny-tailed" and "thorn-tailed" geckos (Wilson & Swan 2013) S. assimilis (Storr), S. ciliaris, S. intermedius, S. krisalys, S. rankini, S. spinigerus, S. strophurus (Dumeril & Bibron), S. wellingtonae and S. williamsi, in having no enlarged tubercles or spines on either the dorsal body or caudal surfaces; the dorsal and lateral body scales in Strophurus congoo sp. nov. are homogenous in size throughout. In S. rankini the dorsal and caudal tubercles may be reduced to the point of being almost indiscernible or only slightly enlarged (Storr et al. 1990; Wilson & Swan 2013; Cogger 2014) and sparse (Storr 1979), but they are present, in contrast to Strophurus congoo sp. nov. It further differs from the above species in its small size (maximum SVL 49.1 mm) as compared to S. assimilis (78.0), S. ciliaris (89.0), S. intermedius (63.6), S. krisalys (76.0), S. rankini (63.0), S. spinigerus (74.0), S. strophurus (70.0), S. wellingtonae (85.0) and S. williamsi (66.6). The tail is generally shorter in Strophurus congoo sp. nov. (maximum TL/SVL 0.56) than in the above species, though there is overlap in TL/SVL ratios with some. Minimum TL/SVL ratios for those species are as follows: S. assimilis (0.55), S. ciliaris (0.53), S. intermedius (0.52), S. krisalys (0.59), S. rankini (0.60), S. spinigerus (0.70), S. strophurus (0.60), S. wellingtonae (0.59) and S. williamsi (0.43). See Table 2 for comparative mean and range values.
Strophurus taenicauda, although most closely related to the spiny-tailed Strophurus (Kluge 1967; Brown et al. 2012; Oliver, pers. comm.), has no enlarged dorsal spines or tubercles. Strophurus congoo sp. nov. differs from S. taenicauda in smaller maximum size (e.g. SVL 69.3–73.2 mm), usually shorter tail (range TL/SVL 0.54–0.84) (measurements from Brown et al. 2012) different eye colour (orange to red in S. t. taenicauda and S. t. triaureus Brown, Worthington Wilmer & Macdonald; cream to pale yellow with prominent pale flecks around the pupil in S. t. albiocularis Brown, Worthington Wilmer & Macdonald), lacking gold–orange dorsal tail stripe and pattern of starkly contrasting black spots and patches on a white to pale grey ground colour.
Where Strophurus congoo sp. nov. and S. williamsi are sympatric, the dorsal tubercles of S. williamsi tend to be reduced. Nevertheless, the two species are readily distinguished by the following features of S. williamsi (see description of Strophurus congoo sp. nov. for comparison): enlarged orange tubercles on the body and tail, dorsal pattern obvious, and usually including a broad darker, zigzag pattern longitudinally (Figure 8), more prominent patterning on belly, often including broad, irregular brown reticulations, and iris white, with dark reticulations and a distinct orange border (Figure 9).
From the remaining Strophurus species, that lack enlarged spines or tubercles on the tail and/or dorsal body surface, Strophurus congoo sp. nov. most closely resembles the seven "striped" or "phasmid" geckos (Wilson & Swan 2013; Oliver & Parkin 2014); S. jeanae, S. mcmillani, S. michaelseni, S. robinsoni, S. taeniatus, S. wilsoni Storr, and S. horneri Oliver & Parkin.
Male Strophurus congoo sp. nov. are differentiated from males of the phasmid geckos listed above as well as from their relative Strophurus elderi (Stirling & Zietz) in possessing precloacal pores. Male Strophurus congoo sp. nov. further differ from S. horneri, S. jeanae, S. mcmillani, S. michaelseni and S. taeniatus in lacking clear longitudinal stripes on the body and tail; at most Strophurus congoo sp. nov. has three faint, wavy, pale stripes along the original tail, commencing at or behind the hips and separated by slightly darker grey stripes. One of the pale tail stripes forms a rough mid-line 1–4 scales wide. This is bordered on either side by a darker stripe 2–5 scales wide, while the pale dorsolateral tail stripes are 1–4 scales wide. These do not form clear stripes as in the above species. When there is an indication of dorsal body pattern, it is in the form of very faint longitudinally arranged series of blotches, tending to join up, but not regular enough to be considered stripes. Male Strophurus congoo sp. nov. further differs from S. horneri, S. jeanae, S. mcmillani, and S. taeniatus in having a shorter tail with no apparent overlap in proportions with these species (Table 2).
In its light blue–deep purple mouth lining, Strophurus congoo sp. nov. differs from S. mcmillani and S. michaelseni (pink–flesh-coloured), and from S. ciliaris, S. taeniatus and S. jeanae (yellow–orange). With the exception of S. michaelseni, eye colour in Strophurus congoo sp. nov. is similar to the phasmid geckos, that is, pale orange to dark brown reticulations on a cream to grey iris (deep orange to brown with darker reticulations in S. michaelseni). Strophurus congoo sp. nov. differs from S. michaelseni in its slender build (robust in S. michaelseni).
Strophurus congoo sp. nov. differs from S. elderi in colour and pattern. Strophurus elderi is dark grey–brown with dark-edged cream–white spots scattered over the dorsal surface, and associated with enlarged tubercles (Cogger 2014). Strophurus elderi also has a stout tail and the mouth colour is pink to flesh coloured (Greer 1989).

Habitat: Strophurus congoo sp. nov. is known from a limited area of infertile granitic and rhyolite country in the Einasleigh Uplands bioregion within the northern Great Dividing Range, Queensland, Australia (Figure 1). The area is in the seasonally dry tropics, a region characterised by marked seasonal differences with a distinct wet season usually from December–April, and mostly dry for the remainder of the year. All individuals of Strophurus congoo sp. nov. were located within open Eucalyptus spp. woodland with Triodia bitextura hummocks, with or without other grass species and the shrub Jacksonia thesioides and sedge Schoenus sparteus ground cover (Figures 10 and 11). 
EtymologyStrophurus congoo sp. nov. is named in honour of Mr Tom Congoo, Bar-Barrum elder, and his family, who hold native title claim over the area where Strophurus congoo sp. nov. was first discovered. The specific epithet is used as a noun in apposition. Mr Congoo readily allowed our original survey team (EV plus former CSIRO staff members Nick Colman and Genevieve Perkins) to survey the area. 
References
  • VANDERDUYS, ERIC 2016. A new species of gecko (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Strophurus) from north Queensland, Australia. Zootaxa 4117 (3): 341–358
 
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