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Sphaerodactylus macrolepis GÜNTHER, 1859

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Higher TaxaSphaerodactylidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Big-scaled Dwarf Gecko, Big-scaled Least Gecko, “Cotton ginner”
spanius: Common Gecko
Spanish: Salamanquita común (spanius) 
SynonymSphaerodactylus macrolepis GÜNTHER 1859: 215
Sphaerodactylus imbricatus FISCHER 1881: 234
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis — BOULENGER 1885: 226
Sphaerodactylus danforthi GRANT 1931
Sphaerodactylus danforthi — GRANT 1937: 520
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis — BURT & MYERS 1942
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis macrolepis — THOMAS & SCHWARTZ 1966: 224
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 505
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis — KLUGE 1993
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis — RÖSLER 2000: 112
Sphaerodactylus macrolepis — DAZA et al. 2019 
DistributionPuerto Rico (Isla Verde, Isla Pineros), Antilles, Congo Key, St. Croix, Water, St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda Ensenada Sun Bay (=Ensenada Sombe), Isla Vieques, Anegada Island, Anguilla, Dog Island, Green, Culebra, Great Camanoe, Guana, Jost van Dyke, Necker

macrolepis: islands east of Puerto Rico, US. and British Virgin Islands; Type locality: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.8.30.74-.75
Holotype: MCZ 34403 [danforthi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: SVL Min/Max is 11.81/27.54 mm, dorsal scales without knob-like organs, dorsal body scales are small, and can be rounded or acute. Tail also has dorsal scales with the free edge rounded, and fourth toe with six to eight lamellae. This species has several distinctive coloration features, including males with marked reticulated head (marbled); males without dorsal lines or salt and pepper (this shared with S. inigoi and S. parvus); males with a blue head (background color, similar to the head in S. g. mimetes); males with reticular pattern on the gular area (also in S. g. mimetes and S. parvus); males with indistinct cephalic figure (or pattern); males and females with head pattern either black or dark brown; females with a fragmented head pattern; females with fainter reticulation on the throat especially next to the jaw; females with dorsal medial lines fused to form a blotch or imperfect line (also present in S. inigoi); scapular patch of males (when present) and females could be bicolor (brown and black) with brown anterior part of the scapular patch (the area anterior to the ocelli); scapular patch well defined with two anterior lateral projections or could be formed by two united circles (but not rectangular), pale or yellowish ocelli inside the scapular patch; females with anterolateral lines that contact the scapular patch; central parietal dot with two lateral lines that extend from the snout and meet posterior to the parietal dot; shortened snout (also seen in S. parvus, S. inigoi, and S. g. stibarus) (DAZA et al. 2019: 163). 
CommentIllustrations: Stejneger, 1904 (as S. grandisquamis); Schmidt, 1928; Grant, 1931; King, 1962; Thomas and Schwartz, 1966; Rivero, 1978; MacLean, 1982; Grobman, 1983.

Subspecies: Most subspecies of (former) S. macrolepis have been moved to S. grandisquamis by Daza et al. 2019. Sphaerodactylus macrolepis parvus KING 1962 has been elevated to species status by POWELL & HENDERSON 2001.

Habitat: terrestrial

Ecology: The Dwarf Gecko Sphaerodactylus macrolepis from the Virgin Islands is the world's “densest” terrestrial vertebrate at a density of 21,367 per acre (52,800 per hectare) and a biomass of about 8.9 pounds per acre (10 kilograms per hectare), which is similar to that of the African elephant, Loxodonta africana (Bauer 2013).

Distribution: Not in Costa Rica fide SAVAGE 2002 and SAVAGE & BOLANOS 2009. Not in Panama according to Köhler 2008, Jaramillo et al. 2010, Lotzkat 2015 (pers. comm., 23 Dec 2015). 
  • Allen, Kaitlin E. and Robert Powell 2014. Thermal Biology and Microhabitat Use in Puerto Rican Eyespot Geckos (Sphaerodactylus macrolepis macrolepis). Herp. Cons. Biol. 9 (3): - get paper here
  • Barbour, T. 1915. Recent notes regarding West Indian reptiles and amphibians. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 28: 71-78 - get paper here
  • Barbour, T. 1917. Notes on the herpetology of the Virgin Islands. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 30: 97-103. - get paper here
  • Bauer, A.M. 2013. Geckos - The Animal Answer Guide. Johns Hopkins University Press, 159 pp.
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. Geckonidae, Eublepharidae, Uroplatidae, Pygopodidae, Agamidae. London: 450 pp. - get paper here
  • Burt, Charles E. & Myers, George S. 1942. Neotropical lizards in the collection of the Natural History Museum of Stanford University. Stanford University Press, 52 pp.
  • Carey, W.M. 1972. The Herpetology of Anegada, British Virgin Islands. Carib. J. Sci. 12(1/2): 79-89.
  • Daza, Juan D. and Aaron M. Bauer 2012. Temporal Bones of the Gekkota Support Molecular Relationships within the Pygopodoidea. Journal of Herpetology 46 (3): 381-386. - get paper here
  • DAZA, JUAN D.; BRENDAN J. PINTO, RICHARD THOMAS, ALEXANDRA HERRERA-MARTINEZ, DANIEL P. SCANTLEBURY, LUIS F. PADILLA GARCÍA, RAJESH P. BALARAMAN, GAD PERRY, TONY GAMBLE 2019. The sprightly little sphaerodactyl: Systematics and biogeography of the Puerto Rican dwarf geckos Sphaerodactylus (Gekkota, Sphaerodactylidae). Zootaxa 4712 (2): 151–201 - get paper here
  • de Queiroz, Kevin and Losos, Jonathan B. 2017. Anolis pulchellus (Puerto Rican Grass-bush Anole) and Sphaerodactylus macrolepis (Big-scaled Dwarf Gecko) Predator-prey interaction. Herpetological Review 48 (1): 184 - get paper here
  • Fischer, J. G. 1881. Herpetologische Bemerkungen vorzugsweise über Stücke des Naturhistorischen Museums in Bremen. Abhandlungen des Naturwissenschaftlichen Vereins in Bremen, 7: 225-238 [Nov. 1881]
  • Grant, C. 1931. The sphaerodactyls of Porto Rico, Culebra and Mona islands. J. Dept. Agric. Puerto Rico 15: 199-213. - get paper here
  • Grant, C. 1937. Herpetological notes with new species from the American and British Virgin Islands, 1936. J. Dept. Agric. Puerto Rico 21: 503-522.
  • GRIFFING, A. H., KEATING, S. E., PINTO, B. J., NIELSEN, S. V., & GAMBLE, T. 2023. Clarifying a male color morph of Sphaerodactylus macrolepis Günther, 1859 and resolving the taxonomic confusion on Saint Croix. Zootaxa 5343(3), 273-280
  • Grobman, A.B. 1983. The lizards of Virgin Gorda. Naturegraph Publ., Inc., Happy Camp, CA:5-23.
  • Günther, A. 1859. On the reptiles from St. Croix, West Indies, collected by Messrs, A. and B. Newton. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 4: 209-217 - get paper here
  • Heatwole, H., D.S. Sade & R. Hildreth 1963. Herpetogeography of Puerto Rico. I. Herpetofauna of Cayo Santiago and Cayo Batata. Carib. J. Sci. 3 (1): 1-5.
  • Kaup, B. 2012. Farbenfrohe Winzlinge – Kugelfingergeckos im heimischen Wohnzimmer. Reptilia (Münster) 17 (97): 39-45 - get paper here
  • Kelehear, Crystal; Sean P. Graham, and Tracy Langkilde 2017. Defensive Strategies of Puerto Rican Dwarf Geckos (Sphaerodactylus macrolepis) Against Invasive Fire Ants. Herpetologica 73, No. 1: 48-54 - get paper here
  • King, W. 1962. Systematics of Lesser Antillean lizards of the genus Sphaerodactylus. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences, 7:1-52 - get paper here
  • MacLean, W.P. 1982. Reptiles and amphibians of the Virgin Islands. MacMillan Caribbean, London: vii + 54 pp.
  • Mayer, G.C. & Lazell, J. 1988. Distributional records for reptiles and amphibians from the Puerto Rico Bank. Herpetological Review 19 91): 23-24 - get paper here
  • Noble, G. K. 1921. The bony structure and phyletic relations of Sphaerodactylus and allied lacertilian genera, with the description of a new genus. American Museum Novitates (4): 1-16 - get paper here
  • Philibosian, R.; Yntema, J. A. 1976. Records and status of some reptiles and amphibians in the Virgin Islands. I. 1968-1975. Herpetologica 32 (1): 81-85 - get paper here
  • Philibosian, R.; Yntema, J. A. 1978. Records and status of some reptiles and amphibians in the Virgin Islands. II. 1975-1976. Herpetologica 34 (1): 47-51 - get paper here
  • Questel K. 2018. Discovery of geckos, Sphaerodactylus macrolepis Günther and Sphaerodactylus sputator Sparrman, on Prickly Pear Cays, Anguilla, British West Indies. Caribbean Herpetology 61, 1-2 (4 September 2018) - get paper here
  • Rivero, J.A. 1978. Los anfibios y reptiles de Puerto Rico. M. Pareja Montana, 16, Barcelona, Espafia: x + 152 + 148pp.
  • Rodda, G.H.; Perry, G.; Rondau, J. & Lazell, J. 2001. The densenst terrestrial vertebrate. J. Trop. Ecol. 17: 331-338 - get paper here
  • Rösler, H. 2000. Kommentierte Liste der rezent, subrezent und fossil bekannten Geckotaxa (Reptilia: Gekkonomorpha). Gekkota 2: 28-153
  • Sánchez Muñoz,A.J. & Rodda,G.H. 1999. Geographic distribution: Sphaerodactylus macrolepis macrolepis. Herpetological Review 30 (4): 234 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K.P. 1928. Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands: Amphibians and land reptiles of Porto Rico, with a list of those reported from the Virgin Islands. New York Academy of Sciences 10 (1):160 pp.
  • Schwartz, A. & Henderson, R.W. 1991. Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 720 pp.
  • Stejneger, L. 1904. The herpetology of Porto Rico. Rept. United States Natl. Mus. 1902: 549-724. - get paper here
  • Thomas, R., and A. Schwartz. 1966. Sphaerodactylus (Gekkonidae) in the greater Puerto Rico region. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum, Biological Sciences, 10:193—260 - get paper here
  • Valido, Alfredo and Jens M. Olesen 2019. Frugivory and Seed Dispersal by Lizards: A Global Review. Front. Ecol. Evol. - get paper here
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