Mokopirirakau sp. 'Cascades' is extremely similar to M. sp. 'Okarito forest gecko'. Some specimens can be distinguished by bold stripes, or uniform, on undersurface (versus speckled in M. sp. 'Okarito forest gecko') but separation of those which have a speckled undersurface may require genetic analysis. M. sp. 'Cascades' can be distinguished from M. cryptozoicus in having a uniform orange tongue (versus predominantly pink or grey in M. cryptozoicus). Otherwise, geographically isolated from similar species. This species is not known to co-exist with other members of the Hoplodactylus (=Mokopirirakau) granulatus species-complex, but distribution limits poorly understood.
The tag name 'Cascade' was originally applied as a reference to the second location from which the species was collected, the Cascade Plateau, but because the species also occurs in areas with extreme rainfall and cascading waterfalls in Fiordland, the term also suited. An earlier name, 'Esperance Valley gecko' was a reference to the first collection locality. From 1981 known as H. granulatus (part) (Thomas 1981, Whitaker 1984). During 1999 to 2000 the species was referred to as H. sp. 'Esperance Valley' (Roberts & Jewell 1999). Since 2000 onwards, it has been referred to by several variations of the 'Cascades' term (Cascade forest gecko) (Whitaker & Lyall 2004).
This species has two geographic variants: South Westland; Fiordland. The South Westland form is slender and smaller (up to 75 mm SVL) with a marked ventral surface. and occurs in open rocky habitat at lower elevations. The Fiordland form is robust, larger (up to 86 mm SVL). with uniform or weakly marked ventral surface and occurs in alpine zones (Jewell 2007).
Cascade gecko; Cascades forest gecko
A medium sized gecko (63 to 85 mm SVL, (R. Hitchmough unpub. data, R. Hitchmough pers. comm. in Jewell 2008). Dorsal surfaces grey or brown tone and W- or, H- or chevron-shaped markings along the back which may be either dull or light. Sometimes with large, regular mustard-yellow spots on nape and along edges of back, and/or irregular dull orange-red shadings. Ventral surfaces uniform grey, speckled or with irregular longitudinal stripes. Snout with strong patterns. Mouth lining and tongue bright orange. Eye brown or olive-grey. Tail equal or shorter than SVL.
Mokopirirakau sp. 'Cascades'
Hoplodactylus sp. 'Casacdes', Mokopirirakau sp. 'Cascades'
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