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Taxonomy of Hemidactylus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae)


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Posted by Richard Wells on March 17, 2002 at 20:20:14:

Hello all,
For those interested in the Family Gekkonidae I offer you my considerations regarding the genus Hemidactylus in Australia which were recently published in the AUSTRALIAN BIODIVERSITY RECORD, 2002 (No 6): 1-8 (March, 2002)
A copy of this article is attached below,

Kind Regards from

Richard Wells

AUSTRALIAN BIODIVERSITY RECORD
______________________________________________________________
2002 (No 6) ISSN 1325-2992 March, 2002
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Notes on the Genus Hemidactylus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) in Australia.

by

Richard W. Wells
“Shiralee”, Major West Road, Cowra, New South Wales, Australia

In 1985 Wells and Wellington resurrected from the synonymy of Hemidactylus the Genus Pnoepus of Fitzinger, 1843. As then, I still believe that Hemidactylus is a polyphyletic group [Type Species: Gecko tuberculosus Daudin, 1802 = Hemidactylus mabouia Moreau de Jonnes, 1818] and that all Asiatic members of the frenatus group should be placed in the genus Pnoepus. Additionally, a number of synonyms of frenatus were resurrected by Wells and Wellington (1985) in the belief that frenatus was a species complex in need of major revision. Although it would appear that no one has supported these opinions to date, I still hold the above views so consequently maintain my use of the genus Pnoepus for the populations present in Australia.

Genus Pnoepus Fitzinger, 1843

Asian House Gecko
Pnoepus frenatus (Dumeril and Bibron, 1836)

Diagnosis: This is a small slender-bodied gecko with a long, depressed tail with a distinct lateral flange of spinose scales on each side. Body scales small smooth and homogenous; tail scales heterogenous, with numerous smaller scales interspersed with enlarged tubercles or small spines; first supralabial (usually) and rostral contact nostril; rostral rounded with an incomplete median groove; 2 supranasals (anterior the larger); postnasal usually much larger than posterior supranasal; labials larger than surrounding scales; internasal usually present (range 0-2); supralabials 8-11; digits moderately long and depressed and greatly expanded at the distal end to form a large pad; the digits lay flat when viewed laterally; claws free and present on all digits; claws arising from the upper surface of the digit well within the border of the expanded pad; apical subdigital lamellae not enlarged but continuous with a series of narrow transverse lamellae that extend right across the pad; subdigital lamellae 7-10 under fourth toe (entire); distal lamellae imbricate, large and divided, and proximal lamellae small and entire; and, preanal pores present in males. Attains a maximum total length of about 120 mm., with a maximum snout-vent length of 60 mm.
Notes: The principal base colour varies from creamish-grey, through to brownish usually with a pattern of black or dark brown flecks lines, striations and small variegations along the body. The ventral colour is whitish. As herein defined, this species is found throughout the tropics of South East Asia, and is widespread and well-known on many islands of Indo-Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Oceania. It is believed to have been accidentally introduced to Australia. In Australia, this species has been recorded from both Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Island. On the mainland, it has been noted at several locations - mostly associated with human settlements - in the far north of the Northern Territory and on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. It may also inhabit a variety of disturbed forest and woodland habitats but usually lives in close association with human habitations. This is an arboreal, highly active species that prefers humid areas - hence its association with houses. The Asian House Gecko is mainly a nocturnal species, but it can be active during rainy days when its presence can easily be detected by its distinctive vocalisations. Calls occur anytime of the day or night and are often made when the humidity levels are suitable for activity, or in response to territorial disputes between this and other species of geckos. In Darwin I have observed this species effectively driving out of houses the much larger native Gehyra australis. Similarly, in riparian savanna woodland along the Adelaide River Pnoepus frenatus apparently displaces the Northern Zig-Zag Gecko Amalosia rhombifer from the trees in which it lives. Asian House Geckoes feeds on small invertebrates - in particular moths. Of course it is oviparous, producing only 2 eggs in a clutch, but sometimes numerous individuals will lay their eggs communally at a suitable site. Although an introduced species, technically this species is at least partially protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). It is regarded as common, but I noticed a decline in some parts of Darwin over the years which I suspect is attributable to home insecticide use. Etymology: The name 'frenatus' means 'bridled', and refers to the colour pattern of the species.

Acknowledgments
My observations on this species in Australia were been greatly assisted by Graeme Gow, then of the Northern Territory Museum in Darwin. When I lived in Darwin, a number of herpetologists assisted with field work and information on this species, in particular Dean Metcalfe, Grant Husband, Ross Pengilley and members of the Northern Territory Field Naturalists Club in Darwin.
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