Conservation Genetics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 169–176 | Cite as

High genetic diversity among fossorial lizard populations (Anniella pulchra) in a rapidly developing landscape (Central California)

  • James F. ParhamEmail author
  • Theodore J. Papenfuss
Research Article


California is a biodiversity hotspot facing unbridled human population growth, especially in Central California. One of the poorly known, sensitive species in this area is the California legless lizard (Anniella pulchra), a fossorial worm-like reptile. We report mt and nuDNA sequences from 69 museum-vouchered samples of Anniella (A. pulchra and its sister species A. geronimensis) from 48 localities. Our genetic survey reveals substantially more genetic diversity within A. pulchra than previously reported. Our two independently evolving markers (mt and nuDNA) reveal five major lineages of A. pulchra. Two of the five major lineages of A. pulchra correspond to a north-south split found in other widespread California reptiles. These northern and southern clades also correspond to a previous study showing variation in chromosomal number. Unlike most other Californian reptiles, A. pulchra has major genetic lineages that are endemic to Central California including two that are endemic to the San Joaquin Valley and Carrizo Plain. Although A. pulchra is threatened throughout its range, the distinct San Joaquin lineages are seriously imperiled by urban sprawl. Some of the localities for the newly recognized genetic lineages have already been destroyed by development.


Anguidae Phylogeny Conservation Genetics San Joaquin Valley 



Many people helped with this project, but two individuals deserve special thanks: (1) David Germano (California State, Bakersfield) discovered the first populations of lineages B and C and brought them to our attention; (2) Chris Feldman (Utah State University) is thanked for fieldwork, discussions, figure help, and major assistance with the analyses. Brian Simison (CAS) greatly facilitated molecular labwork at the Osher Molecular Laboratory. Carol Spencer is thanked for her help with the timely accession of MVZ specimens. Jens Vindum and Hallie Bringnall are thanked for information about specimens at CAS. Gabriel Parra-Olea (IBH) provided data and tissues for a specimen at that museum. Fieldwork was either directly performed or facilitated by Kathy Sharum (Carrizo Plains National Monument), Greg Warrick (Sand Ridge), Sarah Rieboldt (University of California Museum of Paleontology), Jonathan Richmond (University of Connecticut, Cornell University), Greg Pauly (University of Texas), Gabriela Parra-Olea, Barbara Bradford (Riverbank), Dave Clendenden (Wind Wolves Preserve), Dan Rosenberg (Oregon State), and Vince Franke (Pergerine Productions). Jonathan Fong (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology) and Bryan Stuart (Field Museum of Natural History) are thanked for help with the phylogenetic analyses. Dan Mulcahy (Brigham Young University), Lawrence E. Hunt (Santa Barbara Natural History Museum), and Paul Collins (Santa Barbara Natural History Museum) provided insightful discussions on this research. Eliana Parham (Pensacola, FL) and Sarah Rieboldt provided other invaluable assistance. This is UCMP contribution # 1962.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HerpetologyCalifornia Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Museum of PaleontologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Museum of Vertebrate ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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