Lacerta trilineata - Balkan Green Lizard

Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. trilineata, male: GR / Santomeri, 19.04.2019: In contrast to Lacerta viridis, Lacerta trilineata may have bluish necks and flanks, but no blue heads.

Lacerta trilineata is the biggest Green Lizard, a frequent encounter on the Balkans and numerous Greek Islands. It lives in areas with dense vegetation from sea level to the mountains up to at least 1500 meters (e.g. Crete). In cooler or more humid habitats it is often being replaced by Lacerta viridis.

 

Lacerta trilineata has a more pointed snout than Lacerta viridis. Males of Lacerta viridis frequently show bright blue heads in spring. In contrast to this, Lacerta trilineata on the mainland may have bluish necks and flanks but no blue heads.

 

Juveniles of Lacerta trilineata frequently show light dorsolateral lines and a light vertebral line. In contrast to this, Lacerta viridis shows no vertebral line. The light vertebral line also distinguishs juvenile Lacerta trilineata from other small Lacertids (e.g. Podarcis species).

Several subspecies of Lacerta trilineata have been described, although taxonomic revision may be required. Genetic analysis indicates that there are at least two groups in our area*:

 

Western Group:

  • Subsp. trilineata - Southern Balkans and several Greek Islands
  • Subsp. major - Adriatic Coast from Istria to Western Greece
  • Subsp. hansschweizeri - Milos, Sifnos, Serifos
  • Subsp. polylepidota - Crete (and perhaps Kythira)

Eastern Group:

  • Subsp. dobrogica - Eastern Balkans from Romania to Thrace
  • Subsp. cariensis - Lesbos, Chios and Samos
  • Subsp. citrovittata - Central Cyclades
  • Subsp. diplochondrodes - Kos and Rhodes
Lacerta trilineata
The distribution range of Lacerta trilineata.

Western Group

Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. trilineata, male: GR / Rio, 20.04.2019 - In populations of western Peloponnese, bluish flanks frequently occur.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. trilineata, male: GR / Rio, 20.04.2019
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. major: GR / Parga, 07.06.2009 - Specimens from Western Greece and the Adriatic Coast are similar to the nominate susbpecies but slightly bigger. Possibly, this subspecies is invalid.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. major, juvenile: GR / Corfu - Note the light dorsolateral and the light vertebral line.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. hansschweizeri: GR / Serifos, 18.04.2018 - This subspecies frequently shows pale, yellowish colours. However, they seem to be closely related to the nominate subspecies.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. polylepidota: GR / Crete, 11.04.2012 - A specimen basking on a fishing net. This subspecies looks similar as the nominate subspecies.

Eastern Group

Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. dobrogica, female: RO / Dobrogea, 28.05.2013 - In contrast to Lacerta viridis, Lacerta trilineata frequently shows entirely green heads.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. diplochondrodes: GR / Rhodos, 28.03.2017 - Specimens of the "Eastern Group" frequently show blue necks. Subsp. cariensis looks similar.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. diplochondrodes, female: GR / Rhodos, 01.04.2017 - Note the light dorsolateral lines and the (weak) vertebral line.
Lacerta trilineata
Subsp. citrovittata: GR / Naxos, 30.03.2016 - Specimens from the Central Cyclades differ significantly from other subspecies - by external characters as well as with regard to genetic data. On Naxos they seem to be pale brownish instead of green.
Lake Amvrakia (GR / Etoloakarnania): Habitat of Lacerta trilineata and Algyroides nigropunctatus
Lake Amvrakia (GR / Etoloakarnania): Habitat of Lacerta trilineata and Algyroides nigropunctatus

* For genetic analysis, see SAGONAS et al. (2014):

SAGONAS, K. & POULAKAKIS, N. & LYMBERAKIS, P. & PARMAKELIS, A. & PAFILIS, P. & VALAKOS, E.D. (2014) - Molecular systematics and historical biogeography of the green lizards (Lacerta) in Greece: Insights from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 76: 144-154.