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Sphaerodactylus alphus MCCRANIE & HEDGES, 2013

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Higher TaxaSphaerodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Guanaja Large-scaled Geckolet 
SynonymSphaerodactylus alphus MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013
Sphaerodactylus rosaurae — WILSON & HAHN 1973: 106 (part)
Sphaerodactylus rosaurae — SCHWARTZ 1975: 17 (part)
Sphaerodactylus rosaurae — SCHWARTZ & GARRIDO 1981: 20 (part)
Sphaerodactylus rosaurae — MCCRANIE et al. 2005: 82 (part) 
DistributionHonduras (Islas de la Bahía: Guanaja)

Type locality: Savannah Bight, 16.29078°, -85.50300°, Isla de Guanaja, Islas de la Bahía, Honduras, 15 m elevation.  
Reproductionoviparous (manual and phylogenetic imputation, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: FMNH 283672 (genetic sample 1, KF017633, KF017624), an adult female, collected 20 September 2012 by James R. McCranie and Leonardo Valdés Orellana. Paratypes (7). FMNH 283666, adult female, same data as holotype; FMNH 283663, 283674, adult males, and FMNH 283668, juvenile, from East End, 16.486°, -85.832°, collected 19 September 2012 by McCranie and Valdés Orellana; FMNH 283671, 283673 (genetic sample 2, KF017634, KF017625), adult females from East End, collected 17 November 2011 by McCranie; FMNH 283664, adult male from the Hotel Posada del Sol ruins, 16.462117°, -85.853867°, collected 21 September 2012 by McCranie and Valdés Orellana. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Sphaerodactylus alphus can be distinguished from S. rosaurae by its larger size (41.2 mm SVL in two of the seven adults versus maximum known SVL 38.5 mm in 26 adult S. rosaurae; mean SVL 38.6 mm in seven adults larger than largest known female [38.5 mm] of S. rosaurae). Sphaerodactylus alphus also differs from S. rosaurae in having a white spot enclosed in a dark brown occipital blotch that is especially distinct in adult females and juveniles, dark brown occipital blotch confluent with a narrow dark brown crossband in adult females and juveniles, and conspicuous dark, medially broken, crossbands in adult females (versus no white occipital spot, no dark brown occipital blotch confluent with narrow dark brown crossband, and dorsal pattern of adult females reduced to dark spots in S. rosaurae). Sphaerodactylus alphus also averages more dorsal scales in males (29–35, x = 31.3±3.2, n = 3) than do male S. rosaurae (21–29, x = 26.0±2.3, n = 12). Sphaerodactylus alphus occurs sympatrically with one other species of Sphaerodactylus, S. guanajae of the S. millepunctatus species group (McCranie & Hedges 2012), but is easily distinguished from that species in having 2–3 middorsal rows of granular scales that are sharply and distinctly differentiated from the much larger surrounding dorsal scales (versus all dorsal body scales of a similar size in S. guanajae). Sphaerodactylus alphus also differs from other S. copei species group members in amount of model-corrected cytochrome b sequence divergence (6 %; Fig. 1 in MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013). 
CommentSynonymy: after MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013

Sexual dimorphism: see Fig. 5 in MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2013.

Habitat. Specimens were found by raking through Sea Grape (Cocoloba uvifera) leaf litter and debris below coconut palms. Individuals usually tried to rapidly retreat to nearby cover when first exposed. Thus, they are somewhat difficult to capture while at the same time the collector trying not to be too aggressive because of the fragile skin of this species. Because of that fragile skin, many museum specimens of Sphaerodactylus alphus have some damage to their skin. 
EtymologyThe specific name alphus is a Latin masculine, singular noun meaning “a white spot on the skin.” The name alludes to the distinctive white occipital spot found in this species. 
  • Hedges SB, Powell R, Henderson RW, Hanson S, and Murphy JC 2019. Definition of the Caribbean Islands biogeographic region, with checklist and recommendations for standardized common names of amphibians and reptiles. Caribbean Herpetology 67: 1–53
  • McCranie, J.R, L.D. Wilson & G. Köhler 2005. Amphibians & Reptiles of the Bay Islands and Cayos Cochinos, Honduras. Bibliomania, Salt Lake City, 210 pp.
  • McCranie, James R. 2015. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with additions, comments on taxonomy, some recent taxonomic decisions, and areas of further studies needed. Zootaxa 3931 (3): 352–386 - get paper here
  • McCranie, James R. 2018. The Lizards, Crocodiles, and Turtles of Honduras. Systematics, Distribution, and Conservation. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Special Publication Series (2): 1- 666 - get paper here
  • MCCRANIE, JAMES R.; S. BLAIR HEDGES 2013. Two additional new species of Sphaerodactylus (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonoidea, Sphaerodactylidae) from the Honduran Bay Islands. Zootaxa 3694 (1): 40–50 - get paper here
  • Schwartz, A. 1975. New subspecies of Sphaerodactylus copei Steindachner (Sauria, Gekkonidae) from Hispaniola. Herpetologica 31: 1-18 - get paper here
  • Schwartz, A. and Garrido, O.H. 1981. Las salamanquitas cubanas del género Sphaerodactylus (Sauria: Gekkonidae) 1. El grupo copei. Pocyana (230):1-27.
  • Solís, J. M., L. D. Wilson, and J. H. Townsend. 2014. An updated list of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with comments on their nomenclature. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1: 123–144 - get paper here
  • Wilson, L. D., & HAHN, D. E. 1973. The herpetofauna of the Islas de la Bahía, Honduras. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 17: 93-150. - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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