Abiotic: The non-living components of a species' environment.
Abundance: The number of individual organisms within a general area.
Activity periods and cycles: Daily activity in accordance with daily light and temperature regimes.
Adaptation: The change in anatomical structure, physiological process or behavioural trait of a species that has evolved over time by the process of natural selection such that it increases the expected long-term reproductive success of the species.
Adpress: Pressing the forelimbs and hindlimbs towards each other against the body to gauge relative limb length.
Allele: An allele is a viable DNA coding of the same gene occupying a given locus on a chromosome.
Allopatric: Having distributions that do not overlap.
Allopatric speciation: Allopatric speciation occurs when populations physically isolated by an extrinsic barrier evolve intrinsic reproductive isolation; such if this barrier was removed, individuals of the two populations are still unable to interbreed.
Altitude range: The maximum and minimum altitudes at which a species has been recorded.
Alpine Fault: The geological fault line occurring along the South Island Main Divide.
Anatomy: The body structure and organisation of living organisms.
Anterior: At or towards the front of the body.
Apical plates: Scales bordering the claw, in geckos.
Arboreal: Living in trees or shrubs.
ARO: Annual reproductive output.
ATLAS: Atlas of the Amphibians and Reptiles of New Zealand, hosted by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
Atypical variation: Unusual individuals having been recorded in the species, such as melanistic or albino specimens.
Auricular: Relating to the ear.
Autotomy: Tail-loss, spontaneously or by reflex, often used as an escape mechanism.
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Bacteria: Any of the unicellular prokaryotic microorganisms, which vary in terms of morphology, oxygen and nutritional requirements, and motility, and may be free-living, saprophytic, or pathogenic in organisms.
Basal: At or near the base.
Biogeography: The science which deals with patterns of species distribution, and the processes which lead to this distribution.
Biotic: The living components in a species' environment.
Broadleaf: A flowering plant or shrub with 'broad' leaves, as opposed to plants such as beech, which have 'small' leaves.
Canthal: Relating to the dorso-lateral edge of the snout, between the nostril and eye. Usually refers to the canthal stripe or the canthal scales of lizards.
Carrying capacity: The measure of a habitat to indefinitely sustain a population at a particular density.
Catastrophe: An unpredictable event that has a strong effect on a population.
Caudal: Relating to the tail.
Character: A genetically inherited feature of an organism, e.g. eye colour.
Chevron: An inverted V-shaped marking.
Chinshields: Large or medium scales behind the postmental scale(s), in skinks.
Ciliaries: The small scales encircling the eye, divided between upper and lower ciliaries.
Clade: A clade is a branch in a cladogram, and also refers to a group of organisms which share a common ancestor and includes the ancestor and all the descendants of that ancestor.
Cline: Quantitative gradation in characteristics of species across its range.
Cloaca: The common chamber into which the reproductive and excretory ducts open.
Commensalism: Species living together with no mutual disadvantage.
Copulation: The act of mating.
Crenated: Having a notched edge; used to describe a scale feature.
Crenulated: Wavy in shape; used to describe a scale feature.
Crepuscular: Active at dawn, dusk or in deeply shaded conditions.
Cryptic: Inconspicuous or secretive by way of colour, pattern or behaviour.
Cryptic species-complex: A situation in which it has been recognised that a described species sensu lato actually consists of several undescribed species within.
Cryptozoic: Active under cover or in darkened places.
Density: The number of individuals per unit area.
Density dependent: A characteristic which varies according to population density.
Density independent: Any factor that limits a population's size and growth regardless of density. Compare with density-dependence.
Denticulate: Tooth-like markings on the lips of a lizard.
Dermal: Of the skin.
Dichromatic: Sexes with markedly different colouration .
Dispersal: The movement of individuals from one place to another beyond typical home ranges. This movement may be either density dependent or density independent.
Distal: Furthest from the body, away from the point of attachment.
Distal phalange: The narrow portion of a gecko’s toe, between the claw and lamellar pad.
Diurnal: Active by day.
Diurno-nocturnal: Active in periods during both day and night.
Dorsal: Relating to the back or upper surface.
Dorsolateral: Relating to the junction of the dorsal and lateral surfaces.
Dorsally depressed: Flattened from the top, creating an oval cross section in body. Some lizard species are also able to flatten themselves for maximum solar radiation when basking.
Ecdydis: The action of shedding skin, or shed skin.
Ecological niche: A species' or population's relational role in the ecological community, i.e. the sum total of a species' use of the biotic and abiotic resources of its habitat.
Ecological regions and districts: An earlier framework of classifying distinct ecological units, using climatic, geological, topographical and biological factors in New Zealand for the Protected Natural Areas Programme. Largely superceded by LENZ, but still useful.
Ectoparasite: A parasite which lives or feeds on the external surface of a host, e.g mite, ticks.
Ectotherm: Animals in which body temperature is largely determined by external temperature sources and controlled by behavioural means.
Edge effect: Effect of juxtaposition of contrasting environments on a species, community or ecosystem.
Elliptic: Usually relates to vertical pupils.
Endemic: An animal or plant species found only in one country.
Endoparasite: A parasite which lives within the body of its host, e.g. tapeworm.
Entrez: The Entrez Global Query Cross-Database Search System is a powerful federated search engine, or web portal, that allows users to search many discrete science databases at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website. Entrez Global Query is an integrated search and retrieval system that provides access to all databases simultaneously with a single query string and user interface. Entrez can efficiently retrieve related sequences, structures, and references. The Entrez system can provide views of gene and protein sequences and chromosome maps.
Epiphyte: A plant which perches on or hangs from a tree.
Epiphytic: A plant which perches on or hangs from a tree.
Etymology: The origin and history of names used to describe species.
Evolution: The process by which novel traits arise in populations and are passed from generation to generation. Its action over time theoretically explains the origin of new species and biological diversity.
Exotic: An animal or plant species foreign in a country or an ecosystem to which it may either have been accidentally or deliberately introduced to. Such species may have negative impacts on native species through predation, competition or disease. Also known as an introduced species.
Extinction: The ceasing of existence of a species, generally considered to occur upon the death of the last individual of the species.
Fecundity: The capability of a female to produce young in abundance.
Femoral pores: One or more pores beneath the thigh; usually more conspicuous in male geckos.
Follicle: A cluster of cells which surround, protect and nourish a developing egg cell in the ovary and also secrete oestrogen.
Foraging strategy: Information on how a species searches for food resources.
Frontal scale: The large scale on the anterior of the head between the snout and eyes, in skinks.
Frontonasal scale: The large scale behind the rostral scale, in skinks.
Frontoparietal scales: The large scales in front of the interparietal, in skinks.
Fungi: Any of numerous eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Fungi, which lack chlorophyll and vascular tissue and range in form from a single cell to a body mass of branched filamentous hyphae that often produce specialised fruiting bodies. Fungi live by decomposing or absorbing organic material in or on which they grow.
GenBank: The GenBank sequence database is an open-access, annotated collection of all publicly available nucleotide sequences and their protein translations. This database is produced at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) as part of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration, or INSDC.
Gene flow: The gain or loss of alleles from a population by movement of individuals or gametes into or out of the population.
Genus: A taxonomic grouping of similar species more similar to each other than to other species.
Geographic variation: The concept of having distinct regional forms of a specific species.
Gestation and development: The state of carrying developing young within the female, i.e. being gravid.
Gravid: Carrying eggs or developing young within the body, i.e. pregnant.
Growth rates: The rate of growth for an individual to maturity.
Gular scales: Smaller scales behind the chinshields, in skinks.
Habitat: The place or environmental situation in which an animal lives.
Haematoparasite: Blood parasite, usually transmitted between hosts by other parasites.
Heliothermic: Directly basking in the heat of the sun to obtain warmth.
Herpetofauna: Amphibian and reptile fauna.
Herpetology: The study of the amphibian and reptile fauna.
Heterogeneous scales: Refers to the condition where scales differ in size and/or shape.
Holotype: A single physical example (or illustration) of an organism used to formally describe a species. It is either the single such physical example (or illustration), or one of several such that has been explicitly designated as the holotype. Holotypes act as a reference point for taxonomic work.
Home range: The spatial extent or outside boundary of an animal's movement during the course of its everyday activities.
Homogeneous scales: Refers to the condition where scales are similar.
Ice Age: Numerous ice ages have occurred, but this term usually refers to the last great Ice Age (2.4 mya to 10 kya).
Indet.: Indeterminate, usually applied to individuals or populations which cannot be readily assigned to a species.
Indigenous: An animal or plant species which occurs naturally within a country. Also known as a native species.
Infralabial scales: Scales along the lower lip of lizards.
Insectivore: An animal whose diet includes insects.
Interactive species: Other lizard species that a species interacts with.
Interparietal scale: The large middle scale at the top of the head, in between the parietals, in skinks.
Intraspecific interactions: Interactions between individuals of the same species in a community, e.g. territorial behaviour.
Intrinsic vulnerability: The biological characters or traits which put a species at an elevated risk of extinction, such as behaviour, fecundity or longevity.
Introduced species: A species not native to New Zealand, but having established here by anthropogenic means.
Interspecific competition: Competition between (populations of) two species for one or more of the same resources. Interspecific competition may inhibit population growth and structure communities.
Intraspecific competition: Competition between individuals of the same species in a community for resources.
Intrinsic rate of increase: A species' inherent capacity to reproduce.
Juvenile: Young animal that has not matured.
K-selection: The concept that in certain populations, life history is centred around producing relatively few young but with good chances of survival. Compare with r-selection.
Keel: A narrow raised ridge on individual scales or a low crest or other longitudinal flange. Usually in reference to keeled scales on the tail of some skinks.
Labial: Of the lips, usually refering to scales bordering the lips, which are divided into supralabials (upper) and infralabials (lower).
Lamellae: Scales along the underside of the digits.
Lamellar pad: The broad, flat portion of a gecko’s toe, under which the lamellae are situated.
Land Environments of New Zealand: An ecological classification using climatic and landform factors.
Land status: A generalisation of the land management type within a species' known distribution, e.g. national parks or private land.
Lateral: Refers to the sides of an animal.
Laterodorsal: Refers to the junction between the dorsal and lateral surfaces. Usually a term used to describe colour striping or patterning in the area.
Lateroventral: Refers to the junction between the lateral and ventral surfaces. Usually a term used to describe colour striping or patterning in the area.
Lectotype: For species originally described from a set of syntypes, most of the existing syntypes are gradually being replaced by lectotypes. A lectotype is the single specimen selected from among the syntypes to serve as the only name-bearing type specimen, and is formally designated as such. Having a single name-bearing type reduces the potential for confusion, especially considering that it is not uncommon for a series of syntypes to contain specimens of more than one species.
LENZ: See Land Environments of New Zealand
Life expectancy: Lifespan of an animal. Usually recorded as the maximum length of life recorded for a species.
Life history strategy: Life history strategies are usually generalised by the r/K selection theory. An r-selection strategy is the production of a large number of offspring (of which a small proportion may survive) as early in life as possible. The K-selection strategy is to produce a smaller number of 'fitter' offspring with higher survival chances later. Examples of life history characteristics include: age of sexual maturity, adult body size, age-specific mortality schedules, age-specific fecundity, time to first mating, time to first reproduction, duration of gestation, litter size, and interbirth interval. Variations in these characteristics reflect differing allocations of an individual's resources (i.e. time, effort, and energy expenditure) to competing life functions, such as growth, body condition, and reproduction. Thus the allocation of resources involves trade-offs and hence forms a life history strategy for the species.
Limiting factor: A factor which controls processes such as population size, growth or distribution in a specific area. This may be availability of food or shelter, or predation pressure.
Locality: Location in which a species has been recorded.
Loreal scales: The medium scales along the lateral side of the head between the nostril and eye, in skinks.
Mating system: Information on how an individual of either sex of a species selects a mate, or a number of mates.
Mental scale: The large scale near the tip of chin, in skinks.
Metapopulation: A metapopulation consists of a group of spatially separated populations that interact at some level. The development of metapopulation theory, in conjunction with the development of source-sink dynamics, emphasises the importance of connectivity between seemingly isolated populations. The theory assumes that although no single population may be able to guarantee the long-term survival of a species, the combined effect of many populations will increase probability of persistence of a species.
Microhabitat: The immediate surroundings and other physical factors of an individual animal within its habitat.
Midbody scales: The scales counted along an oblique line around the midbody.
Mid-dorsal: Refers to the area along the spine and tail.
Minimum viable population: The minimum number of individuals necessary to prevent a population from losing genetic variation or suffering stochastic extinction over a defined period of time.
Miocene: A geological period 20-10 mya.
Monophyletic: A taxonomic group is monophyletic if it consists of a common ancestor and all its descendants.
Morphocline: Quantitative change in a species’ morphology across its range associated with geographical, ecological or other factors.
Morphology: External aspects of an organism, including size, shape, proportions, scales, colour. Morphometric data add a quantitative element to descriptions and can be used to make comparisons with other species.
MSR: Midbody scale rows, a count of midbody scales.
Mustelids: A group of predatory mammals of the genera Mustela (stoats, ferrets and weasels).
Mutualist: Organisms living together in mutually beneficial association.
Nape: The dorsal surface at back of head.
Nasal scales: The scales where the nostrils are located.
Native: An animal or plant species which occurs naturally within a country. Also known as an indigenous species.
Neonate: A newly born individual of a species.
Neotype: A specimen later selected to serve as the single type specimen when an original holotype has been lost or destroyed, or where the original author never cited a specimen.
Niche: The relational position of a species in an ecosystem.
Nocturnal: Active at night.
Nuchals: Relating to the large scales of the nape.
Ocelli: Eye-like, ring shaped spots.
Oligocene: A geological period 30-20 mya.
Omnivore: An animal whose diet includes both animal and plants.
Ovaries: The female reproductive glands in which the ova (or egg) is produced and develops.
Oviparous: Lizards which reproduce by laying eggs.
Ovoviviparous: Lizards which reproduce by retaining eggs within the body but giving birth to live young.
Ovulation: The process in the menstrual cycle by which a mature ovarian follicle ruptures and discharges an ovum (known as oocyte, female gamete or egg).
Palberal disc: The transparent window in the lower eyelid of some lizards, especially skinks.
Parapatric: Having distributions that may abut, but do not overlap, or having non-overlapping distributions with other similar, closely related species.
Paraphyletic: A taxonomic group of organisms which contain some but not all descendants of the most recent common ancestor.
Parasite: An organism which lives, reproduces or feeds on another organism for a significant portions of the parasite's life cycle.
Paratype: Any additional specimen other than the holotype, listed in the type series, where the original description designated a holotype. These are not name-bearing types.
Parietal scale: The two large scales at the back of the head of skinks.
Parturition: The process leading to and including birth and expulsion of the afterbirth.
Pathogen: An infectious agent that causes disease or illness in its host.
Phenotype: Any observable characteristic of an organism. Phenotypes result from the expression of an organism’s genes as well as the influence of environmental factors and possible interactions between the two. Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of the genotype to adapt its phenotype according to the environment.
Phylogenetic clade: A group of very closely related populations within a phylogeny tree, which may be identified as a single species.
Phylogeny: Reconstructed evolutionary history and relationships of a group of organisms, usually expressed as a 'family tree'.
Physiology: The biological study of the functions of living cells, tissues and organs of organisms.
Pliocene: A geological period 7-2 mya.
Podocarp: A type of conifer tree with sticky seeds. Examples of podocarps are rimu, kahikatea, miro, matai and totara.
Polyandry: The mating system in which one female mates with more than one male.
Polygyny: The mating system in which one male mates with more than one female.
Polyphyletic: A taxonomic group of organisms excluding their common ancestor.
Population: A group of individuals of the same species occupying a certain area and sharing a common gene pool.
Population growth rate: A measure of change in the population size, usually expressed as a percentage per year.
Posterior: At or towards the rear.
Postlabial scales: The scales at the end of the lips, behind the largest supralabial scale, in skinks.
Postmental scales: Large or medium scales behind the mental scale, in skinks.
Postocular: Scales behind the eye, in skinks.
Preanal pore: One or more pores located at front of vent.
Precloacal pores: A series of pores, filled with a wax-like substance, situated in front of the cloaca, often extending to the ventral surfaces of hind limbs of geckos. Usually more developed in males.
Predator: An animal that hunts and kills other animals for food.
Preferred temperature range: The temperature range at which a species has been recorded most active in.
Prefrontal scales: The two scales on each side of the anterior dorso-lateral portion of the snout, between the frontonasal and frontal scales, in skinks.
Preocular scale: Scales before the eye, in skinks.
Proximal: Nearest to the body, close to the point of attachment.
R-selection: The concept that in certain populations, life history is centred on producing many young with lower chances of survival. Compare with K-selection.
Record: Refers either to a bibliographic reference or a block of information relating to a lizard species.
Recruitment: The process of adding further breeding individuals into a population.
Relative abundance: Difference in abundance of a species within a community.
Reproductive system: Information on whether a species is viviparous or oviparous.
Resource partitioning: A subdivision of resources (such as space, food etc.) that minimises competition between similar species.
Reticulated: Forming a net-like pattern or reticulum.
Rostral scale: The large scale at the tip of the snout, in skinks.
s.l.: sensu lato, in the broadest sense.
s.s.: sensu stricto, in the strictest sense.
sensu: As defined by.
Setae: Microscopic hairs or bristles.
Sex ratio: The ratio of males to females in a population. The primary sex ratio is the ratio at the time of conception, secondary sex ratio is the ratio at time of birth, and tertiary sex ratio is the ratio of mature organisms.
Sexual dimorphism: Phenotypic differences between individuals or different sex in the same species.
Sink population: A population where the birth rate does not exceed the death rate at best.
Size classes: Information on individual animal sizes by age up to maturity.
Slough: The action of shedding skin, or shed skin. Also known as ecdysis.
Source population: A population where the birth rate exceeds the death rate, thus providing new individuals to other populations by dispersal.
Speciation: The evolution or formation of a species.
Species: A group of similar organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring.
Stochasticity: Demographical or genetic stochasity is where there is variation in the population structure or frequencies of alleles and genotypes in a population over time.
Straition: Groove on the surface of a scale.
Subcaudal: Beneath the tail; often applies to scales.
Subcutaneous water loss rate: The natural attrition rate of water through the skin.
Subdigital: Beneath the digit.
Subocular scales: One of a series of scales beneath the eye, both before (first subocular) and after (last subocular) the eye.
Subspeciation: Development of regional populations which appear externally distinct in structure, physiology or behaviour, but not sufficiently so to be recognised as full species.
Subspecies: A regional population which is externally distinguishable in structure, physiology or behaviour from another population of the same species, yet capable of exchanging genes with another by interbreeding.
Supraciliary scales: Scales that form a fringe or ‘eyebrow’ above the eye.
Supralabial scales: Scales along the upper lip of lizards.
Supraocular scales: A series of scales above the eye, in skinks.
Survival: The act or process of surviving, or the fact of having survived.
Suture: The groove between non-overlapping scales.
SVL: Snout–vent length; the standard length measurement for lizards.
Sympatric: Where different species occur in overlapping geographical areas without interbreeding. For example, two species of a closely related taxon may share a geographic range, or parts of, but do not interbreed because they are distinct species.
Synonymy: List of names which a species has been recognised by in the past.
Syntopic: Where different species occur in the same place and in the same microhabitat, without interbreeding.
Syntype: A syntype is any of two or more specimens listed in a species description where a holotype was not designated – a practice which was common historically. Those syntypes which have not been replaced are still considered name-bearing types.
Tag name: A temporary name for an as-yet undescribed species considered to be a valid species based on the evidence available.
Tail annuli: Regular slight constrictions encircling tail, visible in scale pattern.
Taxonomy: The science of classifying organisms.
Temporal scales: The large to medium scales behind the eye between the parietal and upper labial scales, in skinks. These scales are divided into three groups: primary, secondary and tertiary.
Terrestrial: Living on the ground surface.
Territorial behaviour: Behaviour in which an animal of a particular species may consistently defend any sociographical area against conspecifics (and, occasionally, animals of other species). Animals that defend territories in this way are referred to as territorial.
Thigmothermic: Absorbing heat by contact with warm surfaces, e.g. rock surfaces.
Threatened species: A species listed in the Department of Conservation's current Threat Classification lists. Listed threatened species range from those that are classified as 'Critically Endangered' to 'Declining' and also include 'Data Deficient' species.
Trait: A genetically inherited feature of an organism, e.g. having brown or blue eyes.
Translocation: The capture, transport and release or introduction of species from one location to another. Translocation as a tool is used to reduce the risk of a catastrophe to a species with a single population, to improve genetic heterogeneity of separated populations of a species, to aid the natural recovery of a species, or re-establish a species where barriers might prevent it from doing so naturally. It is also used to move a representative section of populations out of the way of development.
Tubercle: A rounded or pointed projection, in reference to scale shape.
Tuberculate: Having tubercles.
Tympanum: Eardrum, visible externally on many lizards.
Type locality: The place where the type specimen was collected.
Type specimen: The specimen used to describe a taxon.
Vector: An organism that does not cause a specific disease itself, but spreads infection by conveying pathogens from one host to another.
Vent: The tranverse opening of the cloaca.
Ventral: The lower surfaces, or the scales on the belly.
Ventrolateral: Junction of the lateral and ventral sufaces.
Vicariance: Separation or division of a group of organisms via a geographic barrier, resulting in differentiation into new species.
Virus: A microscopic infectious agent that can reproduce only inside a host cell.
Viviparous: Giving birth to living young that develop within the mother's body rather than hatching from eggs. Young are born free-living.
VSR: Ventral scale rows, a count of ventral scales.
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