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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
Oligosoma “Whirinaki” — HITCHMOUGH et al. 2016 
DistributionNew Zealand

Type locality: Bream Head Scenic Reserve, Whangārei, New Zealand; E1742432 N6031080; 460m elevation.  
TypesHolotype. NMNZ RE007385 (adult male); collected by B.P. Barr, 15 January 2014.
Paratypes (3 specimens). NMNZ RE007383; adult male; same collection data as holotype. NMNZ RE007384; adult female; same collection data as holotype. NMNZ RE007386; adult female; same collection data as holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Oligosoma kakerakau sp. nov. can be distinguished from other Oligosoma species by the following combination of characters: the combination of the distinctive teardrop marking under the eye on the supralabials and the distinctive mid-lateral stripe distinguish O. kakerakau sp. nov. from all other Oligosoma except O. zelandicum and O. microlepis (Patterson & Daugherty). Oligosoma kakerakau sp. nov. can be distinguished from O. microlepis by its speckled ventral surface versus pale cream or white, and by fewer midbody scales (n=4, 26–30) versus O. microlepis (n=9, 38–44). Oligosoma kakerakau sp. nov. can be distinguished from O. zelandicum by: (a) the heavily flecked venter versus uniform or fine flecking in O. zelandicum; (b) relatively long hindlimb length with no overlap in HLL/SVL ratio; (c) relatively long 4th hind toe length with no overlap in FTL/SVL; (d) subdigital lamellae count usually >20 versus usually <21 in O. zelandicum (e) mid-lateral stripe always broken above forelimb versus infrequently broken in O. zelandicum (f) larger midbody scales with midbody scale rows usually <31 versus usually >30 in O. zelandicum; (g) dorsal scale rows always 6 and two half scales versus usually 8 and two half scales in O. zelandicum; (h) ventral scales usually <76 versus usually >73 in O. zelandicum (Table 3).
Although sample sizes are unavoidably small because Oligosoma kakerakau sp. nov. is a threatened species with a very small known population, confidence is greatly increased by the close agreement of the Whirinaki specimen with the Bream Head individuals in all characters visible in the video of the former. Oligosoma zelandicum is a common, well-known species and the characters used have proven reliable for many specimens handled at various field localities.

Scalation (holotype with the variation shown in the type series in parentheses): Upper ciliaries 8 (mean 8.3, range 8–9); lower ciliaries 12 (mean 11.8, range 10–13); nuchals 2 pairs (mean 2.5 pairs, range 2–3 pairs); midbody scale rows 30 (mean 28.3, range 26–30); ventral scale rows 75 (mean 70.0, range 67–75); subdigital lamellae 26 (mean 23.3, range 20–26); supraciliaries 5 (mean 6.0, range 5–7), anterior suboculars 2 (mean 2.3, range 2–3), posterior suboculars 3 (mean 3, range 3–3). Anterior loreal in contact with first and second supralabial. Posterior loreal in contact with second and usually third supralabial. Supralabials 7. Infralabials 6. One primary temporal. Third front digit usually shorter than the fourth. Maximum SVL 60.4 mm. Ratios for morphological measurements (± SD): SF/AG 0.90 (± 0.09); SE/EF 0.88 (± 0.06); HLL/SVL 0.38 (± 0.01); FTL/SVL 0.13 (± 0.01); HW/HL 0.40 (± 0.02); HW/SVL 0.07 (0.00); HL/SVL 0.17 (± 0.00).

Colouration. Dorsal surface brown with occasional dark brown and light brown flecks, especially on the head. A cream “tear-drop” marking is below the eye, edged in dark brown. No mid-dorsal stripe. A cream dorsolateral stripe with a distinct lower edge that undulates, sometimes strongly. Dorsolateral stripe fades out gradually. A cream mid-lateral stripe, two half-scale rows wide, extends from the eye to the forelimb and sometimes beyond (although it is always broken above the forelimb) breaking posteriorly into irregular blotches that are on the same plane. Top of the mid-lateral stripe passes through ear. A cream dorsoanterior stripe runs down forelimb on brachium and antebrachium and can be broken. Upper lateral zone between the dorsolateral and mid-lateral stripe is dark brown and unmarked and extends from the nostril, through the eye and down the body and tail. Chin grey and speckled. Throat and belly are brown or dark red-orange, heavily speckled with black flecks aligned as broken stripes. Soles of the feet are dark brown to black. There does not appear to be sexual dimorphism in colour patterns. Juvenile colouration similar to that in adults. 
CommentConservation Status. Oligosoma kakerakau sp. nov. is currently listed under the New Zealand National Threat Classification System as ‘Nationally Critical’ by Hitchmough et al. (2016). This listing uses criterion A(3) on the basis that the total known area of occupancy (AOO) is ≤ 1 ha (0.01 km2), and the qualifiers Conservation Dependent, Range Restricted, and Sparse (Townsend et al. 2008) also apply. The species potentially qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List criteria (IUCN 2012). Its AOO and Extent of Occurrence (EOO) are both <4 km2, and it has 2 known locations, which are severely fragmented. Invasive mammalian predators are inferred to be a source of past, current and ongoing decline in EOO, AOO, and number of mature individuals. Thus, the species may be listed as Critically Endangered B1ab(i,ii,v)+B2ab(i,ii,v) (Barr et al. 2021). 
EtymologyThe specific name is from the te reo Māori words kake, meaning to climb or scale, and rākau, meaning tree. These are in reference to the tree climbing behaviour of this species. This name was gifted by kaumātua of Ngātiwai, the mana whenua of Bream Head Scenic Reserve, where the type locality resides. 
  • BARR, B. P., CHAPPLE, D. G., HITCHMOUGH, R. A., PATTERSON, G. B., & BOARD, N. T. 2021. A new species of Oligosoma (Squamata: Scincidae) from the northern North Island, New Zealand. Zootaxa 5047 (4): 401-415 - get paper here
  • Hitchmough, R., Barr, B., Lettink, M., Monks, J., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., van Winkel, D. & Rolfe, J. 2016. Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2015. In: New Zealand Threat Classification Series 17. Department of Conservation, Wellington, pp. 1–22
  • Hitchmough, Rodney A.; Geoffrey B. Patterson, and David G. Chapple 2016. Putting a Name to Diversity: Taxonomy of the New Zealand Lizard Fauna. in: Chapple, D.G. (ed). New Zealand Lizards. Springer, pp. 87-108 - get paper here
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