Skinks of Oceania, New Guinea, and Eastern Wallacea: an underexplored biodiversity hotspot - MNHN - Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle Access content directly
Journal Articles Pacific conservation Biology Year : 2023

Skinks of Oceania, New Guinea, and Eastern Wallacea: an underexplored biodiversity hotspot

Alex Slavenko
Allen Allison
  • Function : Author
Rafe Brown
  • Function : Author
Robert Fisher
Bulisa Iova
  • Function : Author
Benjamin Karin
  • Function : Author
Fred Kraus
  • Function : Author
Sven Mecke
Clare Morrison
  • Function : Author
Mark O’shea
Jonathan Richmond
  • Function : Author
Glenn Shea
Oliver Tallowin
  • Function : Author

Abstract

Context: Skinks comprise the dominant component of the terrestrial vertebrate fauna in Oceania, New Guinea, and Eastern Wallacea (ONGEW). However, knowledge of their diversity is incomplete, and their conservation needs are poorly understood.

Aims: To explore the diversity and threat status of the skinks of ONGEW and identify knowledge gaps and conservation needs.

Methods: We compiled a list of all skink species occurring in the region and their threat categories designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We used available genetic sequences deposited in the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s GenBank to generate a phylogeny of the region’s skinks. We then assessed their diversity within geographical sub-divisions and compared to other reptile taxa in the region.

Key results: Approximately 300 species of skinks occur in ONGEW, making it the second largest global hotspot of skink diversity following Australia. Many phylogenetic relationships remain unresolved, and many species and genera are in need of taxonomic revision. One in five species are threatened with extinction, a higher proportion than almost all reptile families in the region.

Conclusions: ONGEW contain a large proportion of global skink diversity on <1% of the Earth’s landmass. Many are endemic and face risks such as habitat loss and invasive predators. Yet, little is known about them, and many species require taxonomic revision and threat level re-assessment.

Implications: The skinks of ONGEW are a diverse yet underexplored group of terrestrial vertebrates, with many species likely facing extreme risks in the near future. Further research is needed to understand the threats they face and how to protect them.

Dates and versions

mnhn-03963897 , version 1 (30-01-2023)

Identifiers

Cite

Alex Slavenko, Allen Allison, Christopher Austin, Aaron Bauer, Rafe Brown, et al.. Skinks of Oceania, New Guinea, and Eastern Wallacea: an underexplored biodiversity hotspot. Pacific conservation Biology, 2023, ⟨10.1071/PC22034⟩. ⟨mnhn-03963897⟩
8 View
0 Download

Altmetric

Share

Gmail Mastodon Facebook X LinkedIn More