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Distribution of Maximum Snout-Vent Length among Species of Scincid Lizards
Allen E. Greer
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 35, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 383-395
Published by: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1565956
Page Count: 13
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The distribution of maximum snout-vent length for 1206 of the approximately 1227 described species of scincid lizards ranges from 23-490 mm, has a mode of 55 mm, a median of 69 mm, a mean of 82 mm, and is strongly right skewed. At both the small and large ends of the distribution, there are noticeable lineage effects, that is, a few lineages contribute a large proportion of the species. Perhaps surprisingly given the surface-volume relationships of small animals, many of the smallest species occur in arid or seasonally arid habitats. Egg size may be the limiting factor in the evolution of small adult size. The larger species tend to be burrowers (litter and sand swimmers), have diets different from the usual (for scincids) arthropods, occur on small oceanic islands (absence of predators?), or are live-bearing. Species of skinks that have gone extinct in the last 200 years have been relatively larger than species that have survived. The overall shape of the size distributions for scincids and gekkonids, the only other major group for which there are comparable data, are surprisingly similar, suggesting a common cause such as tracking evolutionarily the same size spectrum of arthropod prey.
Journal of Herpetology © 2001 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles