Podarcis ionicus - Ionian Wall Lizard

Podarcis ionicus
Female: GR / Zakynthos, 29.05.2017 - An extensively green specimen.

The Ionian Wall Lizard is a good example for alternating taxonimic systematics: Initially, this species had been described by LEHRS in 1903. However, BOULENGER (1907) recognized it as a subspecies of Podarcis tauricus. Recent genetic analysis revealed that it actually should be regarded as a separate species*.

 

In fact, the two species show morphological differences: Podarcis tauricus has broad dark supra-dorsolateral streaks, which are reduced to single blotches in Podarcis ionicus. Therefore, the back of Podarcis ionicus appears widely green whereas Podarcis tauricus only shows a green vertebral streak. Furthermore, Podarcis ionicus tends to have more green colouration on the flanks than Podarcis tauricus. The undersides may be white, yellow or even orange.

 

Podarcis ionicus inhabits a wide range of well-vegetated habitats. It seems to climb more than Podarcis tauricus. Geographically, the Pindos Mountain Range acts as an efficient barrier between the two species.

The distribution range of Podarcis ionicus covers southern Albania, western Greece, the Ionian Islands (Corfu, Kefalonia, Ithaka, Zakynthos) and the Peloponnese.

 

It may co-occur with the following species:

  • In Western Greece and on Peloponnese, Podarcis ionicus could be confused with Podarcis erhardii or Podarcis muralis. Both species have no green colouration and frequently show dark blotches on the labials which lack in Podarcis ionicus.
  • On Peloponnese, Podarcis ionicus also co-occurs with Podarcis peloponnesiacus. Males of the latter one often show bright orange but no bright green colours. Females of Podarcis peloponnesiacus have dark vertebral stripes, which usually lack in Podarcis ionicus. However, in some cases the two species may look quite similar - hence, a closer look may be required: Podarcis ionicus frequently shows a distinct brown streak between eyes and ears, which lacks in male Podarcis peloponnesiacus. Additionaly, the latter one tends to have more prominent blue blotches on shoulders.
Podarcis ionicus
The distribution areas of Podarcis ionicus and Podarcis tauricus are seperated by the Pindos mountain range.

Podarcis ionicus
Male: GR / Ithaka, 31.05.2017 - This species frequently climbs on trees.
Podarcis ionicus
Male: GR/ Kefalonia, 29.05.2014 - Note the orange throat.
Podarcis ionicus
Male: GR / Feneos, 26.10.2012 - Podarcis ionicus frequently shows a brownish streak between eyes and ear opening.
Podarcis ionicus
Female: GR / Ithaca, 30.05.2017 - Note the wide green area on the back.
Podarcis tauricus
The shores of Lake Stymphalia (Peloponnese) - Habitat of Podarcis ionicus and Lacerta trilineata.

* PSONIS, N. & ANTONIU, A. & KUKUSHKIN, O. & JABLONSKI, D. & PETROV, B. & CRNOBRNJA-ISAILOVIC, J. & SOTIROPOULOS, K. & GHERGHEL, I. & LYMBERAKIS, P. & POULAKAKIS, N. (2017) - Hidden diversity in the Podarcis tauricus (Sauria, Lacertidae) species subgroup in the light of multilocus phylogeny and species delimitation. - Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 106: 6-17.