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Microgecko varaviensis GHOLAMIFARD, RASTEGAR-POUYANI & RASTEGAR-POUYANI, 2019

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymMicrogecko varaviensis GHOLAMIFARD, RASTEGAR-POUYANI & RASTEGAR-POUYANI 2019: 440
Microgecko helenae helenae — GHOLAMIFARD & RASTEGAR-POUYANI 2015
 
DistributionIran (S Zagros mountains)

Type locality: Varavi Mountain, 27°30’27.4’’ N, 53°07’10.8’’ E and 1340 m a.s.l., Varavi District, Mohr County, southwest Fars Province, southern Iran  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. RUZM GT.11.57, collected on 3 September 2013 at about 03h10 by A. Gholamifard.
Paratypes. RUZM GT.11.58–63, GT.11.111–112 (n=8), collected at the same locality as the holotype on 3 September 2013 from about 03h10 to 07h00 by A. Gholamifard and local field assistants. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Microgecko varaviensis sp. nov. (Figs. 2–4) is a small gecko with a maximum known snout-vent length (SVL) of 28.3 mm. The species possesses all diagnostic characters of the genus Microgecko (sensu Bauer et al. 2013). Microgecko varaviensis sp. nov. has a dorsum without any distinct or indistinct crossbars, with light white spots (Figs. 2–3); and the regenerated portion of tail in M. varaviensis sp. nov. is yellow to brownish-yellow (Fig. 2). In the new species four scales border the nostril (SBN) instead of five (Fig. 9); the number of ventral scales from behind the postmentals to a level of vent (GVA) is 101–114; the range of dorsal scales in midline between axilla to groin (AGS) is 56–71; and the supranasals (internasals) are separated by two granular scales (Fig. 10a). Microgecko varaviensis sp. nov. has 6–7 (mean 6.27) supraliabial and 5–6 (mean 5.73) infralabial scales.

Comparisons. Superficially, M. varaviensis sp. nov. differs from M. h. helenae, M. h. fasciatus, M. latifi, and M. persicus (all three subspecies) by having a dorsum without any distinct or indistinct crossbars, and from M. chabaharensis and western populations of M. cf. helenae (which lack cross bands) by the presence of light white spots (Figs. 2–3). Also, the regenerated portion of tail in M. helenae populations is uniform black (Fig. 6).
Microgecko varaviensis sp. nov. has a single pair of postmental shields and, therefore, differs from M. latifi (no postmentals), M. depressus (no postmentals or only one pair of very small postmentals), M. persicus (two pairs of postmentals) and M. chabaharensis (three pairs of postmentals) (Fig. 8). Microgecko varaviensis sp. nov. differs from M. helenae (M. h. helenae and M. h. fasciatus) with which it shares one pair of postmental shields, in having a lower range of GVA (101–114) versus 106–123 and 111–130, respectively, in M. h. helenae and M. h. fasciatus. AGS in M. varaviensis sp. nov. is 56–71 versus 63–82 in M. h. helenae and 82–96 in M. h. fasciatus. Also, Mi- crogecko varaviensis sp. nov. differs from M. chabaharensis, and M. p. persicus by having the lower number of supraliabial (6–7) and infralabial (5–6) scales, as compared with M. chabaharensis and M. p. persicus with 8–9 and 8, and 9–10 and 7–9, respectively (Szczerbak & Golubev 1986). For additional comparisons see Tables 1 and 2.
The distinctive morphological features of the above mentioned specimens from Fars Province among all popu- lations of Microgecko with a single pair of the postmental shields, e.g. the lack of dorsal crossbars, white spots on the dorsum, different color of the regenerated tail, lower number of ventral scales (GVA) and scales that border nostril (SBN), the complete separation of both pairs of internasals (SSIN) and post internasals (SSPIN) (see Tables 1 and 2; Figs. 2–4, 6–10), as well as differences of its habitats in the southern Zagros Mountains from M. helenae in southwest and western Iran, as well as a high uncorrected genetic distance (cytochrome b) of 15.7% between M. h. helenae and M. varaviensis sp. nov. strongly support M. varaviensis as a new species. 
CommentDistribution: for a map see GHOLAMIFARD et al 2019: 436 (Fig. 1).

Habitat. The type locality of M. varaviensis sp. nov. is in a mountainous area (Varavi Mountain) in the southern parts of the Zagros Mountains, about 45 km from the Persian Gulf (Figs. 1, 5 in GHOLAMIFARD et al 2019). Varavi Mountain is a long massif with a length of 124 km and width of 4–8 km and extends from the western border of the Mohr Township to the eastern border of Lamerd Township, both in the southwest of Fars Province. It is parallel with the southern limit of the Zagros Mountains in Bushehr and Hormozgan Provinces (Fig. 5a). The vegetation of the type locality consists of different species of thorny bushes (Astragalus), seasonal herbaceous cover, thin growth of wild Ziziphus trees, and sparse wild almond trees Amygdalus scoparia Spach, wild pistachio (common name in Persian is Baneh) Pistacia atlantica Desfontaines, and wild fig Ficus sp. (Fig. 5b). Woody elements of the vegetation are more abundant at higher elevations and in intact areas of Varavi Mountain. 
EtymologyThe species is named after the region where the type material was collected (Varavi Mountain, Varavi District, Fars Province, southern Iran). 
References
  • GHOLAMIFARD, ALI; NASRULLAH RASTEGAR-POUYANI, ESKANDAR RASTEGAR-POUYANI 2019. A new species of the genus Microgecko Nikolsky, 1907 (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from the southern Zagros Mountains, Iran. Zootaxa 4648 (3): 435–454 - get paper here
  • Torki, F. 2020. A new species of dwarf gecko of the genus Microgecko (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Iran. Sauria 42: 41-54
 
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