Podarcis liolepis - Catalonian Wall Lizard

Podarcis liolepis
Subsp. liolepis, Male: F / Pyrénées-Orientales, 22.06.2008

The Catalonian Wall Lizard is a quite adaptable, well climbing species which can be found in various habitats and even frequently within human settlements. Although being a (sub-)Mediterranean species, it is able to inhabit mountain habitats with cold winters up to 2000 m altitude (Pyrenees, Sistema Ibérico, Sistema Bético).

Being such a "generalist", its distribution ranges from the French Rhône-Valley in the north to the Spanish Sierra Nevada in the south. It shows a great variability which has led to the description of several subspecies:

  • Podarcis liolepis cebennensis has been described for southern France. But geographic delimination towards the nominate subspecies is doubtful.
  • The Spanish Columbretes Archipelago is populated by the dark blotched subspecies atratus. However, this might be just an insular morph of the nominate subspecies.
  • Subspecies sebastiani has been described for the Basque Country area. Presumably, this may be just an ecotype of the nominate subspecies.
  • In the south of the range, additional - so far undescribed - colour morphs occur (see below).

With regard to this, some intra-specific taxonomic revision might be required.

Distribution Podarcis liolepis
Distribution of Podarcis liolepis with its currently recognized subspecies. For an overview of all Iberian Podarcis species see map at Podarcis hispanicus.

In north of the range, Podarcis liolepis has contact zones with Podarcis guadarramae. This species lacks of blue outer ventral scales which frequently occur in males of Podarcis liolepis. Podarcis liolepis may also co-occur with Podarcis muralis (e.g. Penyagolosa, E / Castellón) but it is smaller, more slender und usually shows a lighter colouration than the latter one.

Podarcis liolepis
Subsp. cebennensis, male: F / Alba-la-Romaine, 16.06.2017 - This subspecies occurs in southern France and maybe a small area in north-eastern Spain (Montseny). It is more slender than the nominate subspecies and has no blue outer ventral scales.
Podarcis liolepis
Subsp. sebastiani, pair: F / Basque Country, 24.08.2016 - This subspecies is more robustly built than the nominate subspecies; males frequently show greenish colouration on the backs. Note the smaller female in front.

Southern colour morphs

In the southern part of the range, two colour morphs occur, which differ from the nominate subspecies:

  • In the coastal limestone mountains of the northern Alicante Province a „green morph“ occurs with males frequently showing bright green colours.
  • In central-eastern Spain (Provinces of Cuenca and Teruel) as well as further south in the Baetic Mountain Range, Podarcis liolepis frequently shows distinct dorsolateral and vertebral stripes (which are usually weak or interrupted in the north of the range).

In its southern range, Podarcis liolepis has contact zones with the following species:

  • Podarcis hispanicus is smaller and shows no bluish outer ventral scales. Whereas Podarcis hispanicus lives in warm and dry habitats, it gets replaced by Podarcis liolepis in higher altitudes with cooler, more humid climate.
  • Podarcis virescens can be identified by frequently showing a yellow underside of the tail.
  • In the northern slopes of Sierra Nevada, distinguishing between Podarcis liolepis and Podarcis vaucheri by external characters may be challenging or rather impossible. These southernmost populations are hardly explored, so far.
Podarcis liolepis
"Green morph", male with prey: E / Alicante, 01.03.2019
Podarcis liolepis
"Green morph", female: E / Alicante, 01.03.2019 - Females may show a strong lateral stripe pattern.
Podarcis liolepis
"Green morph", male: E / Alicante, 23.12.2015 - the "green morph" occurs in coastal limestone mountains.
Podarcis liolepis
Female with distinct "stripe pattern": E / Cañada del Hoyo (Cuenca), 08.09.2014
Podarcis liolepis
Male: E / Sierra Espuña (Murcia), 18.09.2018 - Note the bluish outer ventral scales.
Podarcis liolepis
"Striped morph", male: E / Sierra de Cazorla (Jaén), 30.10.2017 - The yellowish throat is characteristic for the southern populations but not for the nominate subspecies.
Podarcis liolepis
The area of the Guadalquivir river source (E / Jaén) on 1400 m altitude: Habitat of Podarcis liolepis, Algyroides marchi and Timon lepidus.