Concinnia queenslandiae

  (Redirected from Gnypetoscincus)

The prickly skink, or prickly forest skink (Concinnia queenslandiae), is a morphologically and genetically distinctive species of skink endemic to rainforests of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area, in north-eastern Australia. Unlike most small skinks, which have smooth scales, this species has rough, ridged and pointed scales. These keeled scales may be an adaptation to its high-rainfall habitat, to its microhabitat in rotting logs, or to camouflage it when moving through forest leaf-litter.

Concinnia queenslandiae
Prickly Rainforest Skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae) (9774749225).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Concinnia
C. queenslandiae
Binomial name
Concinnia queenslandiae
(De Vis, 1890)
  • Tropidophorus queenslandiae
    De Vis, 1890
  • Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae
    Wells & Wellington, 1983
  • Concinnia queensladiae
    Skinner et al., 2013


This species, Concinnia queenslandiae, is a member of the Australian "Sphenomorphid" group of skinks (family Scincidae), which includes such genera as Ctenotus, Anomalopus and Eulamprus.[3][4] Although formerly placed in the monotypic genus Gnypetoscincus, molecular phylogenetic studies by O'Connor & Moritz (2003) and Skinner et al.(2013) demonstrated that this species forms a well supported clade that included Nangura spinosa (also an unusual, narrowly endemic monotypic genus) along with the five species of the Eulamprus tenuis group.[3][4] Among other taxonomic changes within the Australian Sphenomorphids, Skinner and co-authors placed this well supported clade into the genus Concinnia, with the Nangur spiny skink, C. spinosus, and the prickly skink, C. queenslandiae, as successive sister groups to the remaining species .[4]

Distribution and life HistoryEdit

The prickly skink is a habitat specialist restricted to closed canopy forest in high rainfall areas (rainforests) of the Australian Wet Tropics, extending from lowland tropical rainforest to montane forests on the adjacent hills and tablelands.[5] Within these rainforests the prickly skink occurs within rotting logs and leaf litter and although locally abundant in some areas, it is rarely seen without searching.[5] This is a well buffered environment with very low seasonality.[6] This species is ovoviviparous, and despite living in an equable climate, reproduction is seasonal, with females giving birth to 2-5 young in February - April.[7] Animals mature at a snout-vent length (SVL) of around 50 mm (2.0 in) and grow to a maximum SVL of 85 mm (3.3 in), with no obvious difference in external morphology or size between females and males.[7] A skeletochronological study suggested that this corresponds with an age of 5 years at maturity and a maximum life-span around 10 years.[7] Unlike most skinks this is a vocal species with high-pitched but audible calls recorded in the field and in captivity, associated with handling and with aggressive interactions among females.[8]

Phylogeography and Population BiologyEdit

Extensive upland areas of the Australian Wet Tropics, such as the Atherton Tableland, were cleared for farming, largely between 1940 and 1990, leaving many scattered pockets of rainforest surrounded by open pasture. The prickly skink is abundant throughout this area and has become a research subject for studies on the effect of habitat fragmentation on genetic diversity, gene flow and adaptation in a rainforest dependent species. A 1993 phylogeographic study by Moritz and co-authors using allozyme electrophoresis and restriction mapping of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes found distinct genetic lineages in populations from the northern and southern wet tropics.[9] These areas are currently connected by a ribbon of rainforest habitat, around 15 km (9.3 mi) wide, known as the Black Mountain Corridor or BMC, but historical climate modeling suggest that rainforests in the northern and southern wet tropics were separated by around 50 km (31 mi) of dry habitats in this area during Pleistocene glacial climate periods.[6] However, the deep divergence between these lineages suggests much longer genetic isolation, with an estimated separation time of over five million years, and these populations may represent different species.[9] Further study of mtDNA and allozyme variation from sites around the Atherton Tablelands (within the Southern Lineage) revealed additional phylogeographic structure, with a divergence between populations around the Bellenden Ker / Wooroonooran Range, east of the Atherton Tableland, and those in the central and southern tablelands.[10] The late-Pleistocene divergence between these lineages (>0.5% across the mtDNA genome) is an order of magnitude less than that between the Northern and Southern Wet Tropics but is indicative of emergence from separate glacial refugia. The larger Wooroonooran refugium maintained higher diversity through the glacial period than the southern Tableland refugium and this natural historical difference in genetic diversity is much greater than any more recent, human induced, effects of forest clearing and fragmentation.[10] More detailed study of genetic variation in populations from the Atherton tableland, using mtDNA sequences and microsatellite loci, revealed a slight reduction in allelic diversity and in the pattern of isolation by distance among populations.[11] Also, Sumner found relatedness among males within fragments was lower in isolated forest fragments than within continuous forests, possibly reflecting greater dispersal within fragments due to lower habitat quality.[12] However, these relatively slight differences show the difficulty of detecting effects of recent habitat fragmentation in a species with relatively low local population size and limited dispersal. Sumner and co-authors did find other ecological effects of fragmentation; skink abundance was higher in continuous forest sites than in fragments, and was lower in small habitat patches than in large patches, and on average, skinks from fragments were smaller than those from continuous forests.[13] Estimates of population density and dispersal distances from capture-recapture methods and from genetic data are broadly consistent, with a density varying from 65 - 136 individuals per ha, and a dispersal distance of 404 – 843 m2, respectively.[14] Genetic estimates of relatedness among individuals found under the same log revealed that juveniles tend to stay with their parents for 1–2 years and subsequently disperse to other logs, with marked individuals observed 0–80 m (0–262 ft) away from their initial capture site over three years.[15]


  1. ^ Hoskin, C. & Shea, G. 2018. Concinnia queenslandiae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T109452257A109452272. Downloaded on 04 May 2020.
  2. ^ Concinnia queenslandiae at the Reptile Database. Accessed 13 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b O'Connor, David; Moritz, Craig (2003). "A molecular phylogeny of the Australian skink genera Eulamprus, Gnypetoscincus and Nangura". Australian Journal of Zoology. 51 (4): 317–330. doi:10.1071/ZO02050.
  4. ^ a b c Skinner, Adam; Hutchinson, Mark N.; Lee, Michael S.Y. (Dec 2013). "Phylogeny and divergence times of Australian Sphenomorphus group skinks (Scincidae, Squamata)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 69 (3): 906–918. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.014.
  5. ^ a b Cogger, Harold G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Frenchs Forest, New South Wales: Reed - New Holland.
  6. ^ a b Nix, Henry A.; Switzer, Margaret A. (1991). Rainforest Animals. Atlas of vertebrates endemic to Australia's Wet Tropics. Canberra: Kowari 1. Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service.
  7. ^ a b c Cunningham, Michael J. (24 Dec 1993). "Reproductive biology of the prickly forest skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae, an endemic species from Northern Queensland". Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 34 (1): 131–138.
  8. ^ O'Connor, Dave (Feb 2003). "Vocalisation and Aggression in the Prickly Forest Skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae". Australian Zoologist. 32 (2): 265–266. doi:10.7882/AZ.2003.010.
  9. ^ a b Moritz, Craig; Joseph, Leo; Adams, Mark (Aug 1993). "Cryptic diversity in an endemic rainforest skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae)". Biodiversity and Conservation. 2 (4): 412–425. doi:10.1007/BF00114043.
  10. ^ a b Cunningham, Michael J.; Moritz, Craig (1998). "Genetic effects of forest fragmentation of a rainforest restricted lizard (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae)". Biological Conservation. 83 (1): 19–30. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(97)00046-3.
  11. ^ Sumner, Joanna; Jessop, Tim; Paetkau, David (February 2004). "Limited effect of anthropogenic habitat fragmentation on molecular diversity in a rain forest skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae". Molecular Ecology. 13 (2): 259–269. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.02056.x.
  12. ^ Sumner, Joanna (May 2005). "Decreased relatedness between male prickly forest skinks (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae) in habitat fragments". Conservation Genetics. 6 (3): 333–340. doi:10.1007/s10592-005-4959-1.
  13. ^ Sumner, Joanna; Moritz, Craig; Shine, Richard (Dec 1999). "Shrinking forest shrinks skink: morphological change in response to rainforest fragmentation in the prickly forest skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae)". Biological Conservation. 91 (2–3): 159–167. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00089-0.
  14. ^ Sumner, Joanna; Rousset, Francois; Estoup, Arnaud; Moritz, Craig (August 2001). "'Neighbourhood' size, dispersal and density estimates in the prickly forest skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae) using individual genetic and demographic methods". Molecular Ecology. 10 (8): 1917–1927. doi:10.1046/j.0962-1083.2001.01337.x. PMID 11555236.
  15. ^ Sumner, Joanna (June 2006). "Higher relatedness within groups due to variable subadult dispersal in a rainforest skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae". Austral Ecology. 31 (4): 441–448. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2006.01599.x. Retrieved 26 April 2015.

Further readingEdit

  • Cogger HG (2014). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Seventh Edition. Clayton, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. xxx + 1,033 pp. ISBN 978-0643100350.
  • De Vis CW (1890). "Descriptions of two Lizards of Genera new to Australian Herpetology". Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, Second Series 4 (4): 1034-1036. (Tropidophorus queenslandiæ, new species, pp. 1034-1035).
  • Shoo, Luke P.; Wilson, Rohan; Williams, Yvette M. (22 January 2014). "Putting it back: Woody debris in young restoration plantings to stimulate return of reptiles". Ecological Management & Restoration. 15 (1): 84–87. doi:10.1111/emr.12079.
  • Wilson, Steve; Swan, Gerry (2013). A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Fourth Edition. Sydney: New Holland Publishers. 522 pp. ISBN 978-1921517280.

External linksEdit