A New Lizard Species Discovered in Russia

Фото предоставлено Краснодарским отделением РГО
Фото предоставлено Краснодарским отделением РГО

Italian wall lizards were found on the territory of the Natural Ornithological Park in the Imereti Lowlands. According to the head of the representative office of the Krasnodar Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society in Sochi, Candidate of Geographic Sciences, Lev Shagarov, this species managed to settle in both hemispheres - it was found in a number of regions of the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and North America. But the Imereti Lowlands is so far the only one on the territory of the former USSR and the most northeastern locality of its habitat.

The deputy director for research of the Sochi National Park, Doctor of Biological Sciences and one of the world's leading herpetologists, Boris Tuniev, together with Lev Shagarov, examined the entire natural park and adjacent urbanized territories. The lizards still live in one area, but in large numbers - more than 150 specimens were found. The population density is from 8 to 40 specimens per 100 m of the route. A relatively high proportion of young specimens (more than 40%) was noted, which indicates the vitality and continued growth of the new population.


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To understand how the Italian wall lizard ended up in Sochi, scientists analyzed archival space images of the Imereti Lowlands from 2010 to the present. The answer turned out to be prosaic: apparently, the clutches of lizard eggs were in tubs with large decorative trees, which were brought from Italy in 2012–2013 for landscaping the Imereti Lowlands before the Olympics.

Now the Italian wall lizard will be included in the list of herpetofauna species in Russia and, in particular, in the Caucasus. Boris Tuniev and Lev Shagarov reported this in a scientific article, which was published in the works of the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences.


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On the one hand, the population density is now high, and the area of ​​population may increase, which will lead to inevitable contact with native lizards and poorly predictable consequences. On the other hand, it quite often happens that after an abrupt surge in the number of an adventive species, a decline may occur, up to the complete disappearance of the population.

To answer the question of how the Italian wall lizards will colonize the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus, scientists will continue regular observations.


Podarcis siculus, Имеретинская низменность, взрослый самец