Hemiphyllodactylus tonywhitteni GRISMER, WOOD, THURA, ZIN, QUAH, MURDOCH, GRISMER, LI, KYAW & LWIN, 2017
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|Higher Taxa||Gekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)|
|Common Names||E: Phapant dwarf gecko|
|Synonym||Hemiphyllodactylus tonywhitteni GRISMER, WOOD, THURA, ZIN, QUAH, MURDOCH, GRISMER, LI, KYAW & LWIN 2017: 11|
Type locality: Phapant Cave, 25.2 km north-east of Taunggyi, Taunggyi District, Shan State, Myanmar (21°11.472N, 96°33.214E; elevation 1270 m)
|Reproduction||oviparous. Two gravid females (NJNUh00321, NJNUh00323) each contained two eggs.|
|Types||Holotype: LSUHC 13026, Adult male, collected on 18 October 2016 at 1600 hours by Evan S. H. Quah, Perry L. Wood, Jr., Matthew L. Murdoch, Thaw Zin, Myint Kyaw Thura, Htet Kyaw, Marta S. Grismer, and L. Lee Grismer. Paratypes: LSUHC 13027 and 13030, Adult females and juvenile female (LSUHC 13028) and juvenile male (LSUHC 13029) bear the same data as the holotype.|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: Hemiphyllodactylus tonywhitteni sp. nov. can be separated from all other species of Hemiphyllodactylus by possessing the unique combination of having a maximum SVL of 38.8 mm; 5–8 chin scales; enlarged postmentals; 3–5 circumnasal scales; 2–4 scales between supranasals (=postrostrals); eight or nine supralabials; eight infralabials; 13–16 longitudinally arranged dorsal scales at midbody contained within one eye diameter and 7–9 ventral scales; varied digital formulae (Table 3); three subdigital lamellae on the first finger; three or four subdigital lamellae on the first toe; 20–26 continuous pore-bearing femoroprecloacal scales; no plate-like subcaudal scales; dark postorbital stripe not extend- ing onto trunk; pairs of paravertebral light spots on trunk; dorsal body pattern not unicolour; postsacral marking bearing light-coloured anteriorly projecting arms; and caecum and gonads unpigmented. These characters are scored across all species of Hemiphyllodactylus from clades 3 and 4 (Table 3 in Grismer et al. 2017).|
Comparisons: The molecular analyses indicate that Hemiphyllodactylus tonywhitteni sp. nov. is embedded within clade 4 of the typus group and is the sister species of H. montawaensis sp. nov. It can be distinguished from H. jinpingensis, H. chiangmaiensis and the species of clade 3 by lacking dark, dorsolateral stripes on the trunk and transverse, dorsal blotches. The PCA analysis shows that it occupies a unique morphospace with respect to H. montawaensis sp. nov. and H. linnwayensis sp. nov. with PC1 and PC2 accounting for 49% of the variation in the concatenated dataset (Figure 3). PC1 accounted for 29% of the variation and loaded most heavily for trunk length and the number of subdigital lamellae on the first toe (Table 6). PC2 accounted for an additional 20% of the variation and loaded most heavily for the number of dorsal scales. The first four components of the PCA were retained for the DAPC which shows that not only are all three species distinct but all individuals of each species fall very close to or within the 95% confidence ellipses (Figure 4). Uncorrected pair-wise sequence divergence between H. tonywhitteni sp. nov. and all other species of clades 3 and 4 ranges from 6.4–18.7% (Table 7). Hemiphyllodactylus tonywhitteni sp. nov. is most similar to its sister species H. montawaensis sp. nov. but differs in having more femoroprecloacal pores (20–26 versus 19–21) and a relatively wider head (0.17–0.19 versus 0.16–0.17) throughout its growth trajectory (Figure 8) and a statistically sig- nificantly wider head (p < 0.24, n = 5) as an adult.
|Comment||Habitat: Phapant Cave is a complex of three caves situated around a small depression along a narrow river. The karstic ridge and outcroppings surround a small monastery which incorporates the caves for worship. The hilly area connecting the caves is composed of highly eroded limestone walls bearing many cracks and pores. Large limestone boulders that have broken away from the cliff face line the base of the shallow escarpment (Figure 7). We believe Hemiphyllodactylus tonywhitteni sp. nov. is a karst-adapted species. A specimen of H. tonywhitteni sp. nov. was found just inside a small opening of one of the caves nearly 4 m above the cave entrance. More specimens were found on the boulders at the base of the cliff and one on one of the cement buildings of the monastery. Syntopic with H. tonywhitteni sp. nov. on both the karst outcroppings and the cement building was an undescribed species of Hemidactylus. Hemidactylus sp. nov. was also found on wooden structures and vegetation where H. tonywhitteni sp. nov. was absent.|
|Etymology||This specific epithet ‘tonywhitteni’ honours Dr Tony Whitten of Fauna & Flora International who has championed a broad range of conservation efforts in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific for well over a quarter of a century. His tireless efforts to conserve and help manage karst ecosystems have been a great inspiration to the senior author (LLG) herein.|
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