Floreana Leaf-toed Gecko

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Phyllodactylidae | Phyllodactylus baurii

English common names: Floreana Leaf-toed Gecko, Baur's Leaf-toed Gecko.

Spanish common names: Geco de Floreana, salamanquesa de Floreana.

Recognition: ♂♂ 8.3 cm ♀♀ 8.7 cm. Geckos are easily distinguishable from other lizards by their nocturnal habits and vertical pupils. Phyllodactylus baurii is generally the only gecko in its area of distribution, but it coexists with the Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) in urban areas of Floreana Island. It differs from the Mourning Gecko by its rounded, instead of expanded, digital disks.

Natural history: Extremely common. Phyllodactylus baurii is a nocturnal and mostly terrestrial gecko that forages on walls, rocky outcrops, soil, and twigs up to 1.7 m above the ground. The species occurs in areas of dry shrubland, caves, and rural gardens.13 Floreana Leaf-toed Geckos are active on dry or drizzly nights.1 During the daytime, they seek refuge under lava blocks, dry wood, and in cracks in the rocks.3 When threatened, individuals of P. baurii flee into crevices. If captured, they may shed the tail and emit high-pitched release sounds.1,3 Individuals of Phyllodactylus baurii feed on cockroaches1 and probably also on other insects. They are preyed upon by Eastern Galápagos Racers (Pseudalsophis biserialis).4 Females lay eggs under lava blocks.3

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Conservation: Near Threatened. We consider Phyllodactylus baurii to be in this category following IUCN criteria5 because the species is facing the threat of predation by housecats and displacement by the invasive Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris). Therefore, it may qualify for a threatened category in the near future if these threats are not addressed. However, there is no current information on the population trend of the Floreana Leaf-toed Gecko to determine whether its numbers are declining.

Distribution: Endemic to an estimated 132 km2 area on Floreana Island and three of its surrounding islets (Champion, Enderby, and Gardner). Galápagos, Ecuador.

Distribution of Phyllodactylus baurii in Ecuador Distribution of Phyllodactylus baurii in and around Floreana Island

Etymology: The generic name Phyllodactylus, which comes from the Greek words phyllon (meaning “leaf”) and daktylos (meaning “finger”),6 refers to the leaf-shaped fingers characteristic of this group of geckos. The specific epithet baurii honors Georg Baur, a vertebrate paleontologist who studied reptiles in the Galápagos Islands.7 Baur postulated that the Galápagos Islands were remnant mountain peaks resulting from the submergence of a former continental landmass.8

See it in the wild: Individuals of Phyllodactylus baurii can be seen with ~60–100% certainty at night in the town Puerto Velasco Ibarra. The best time to look for geckos of this species is just after sunset, when they are actively foraging on rocky surfaces.

Authors: Alejandro Arteaga,aAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador. Gabriela Aguiar, and Juan M GuayasaminbAffiliation: Laboratorio de Biología Evolutiva, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: Galapagos Science Center, Galápagos, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: Centro de Investigación de la Biodiversidad y Cambio Climático, Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, Ecuador.

Academic reviewers: Cruz Márquez.

Photographers: Alejandro Arteaga,aAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador. Jose Vieira,aAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,eAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Frank PichardoaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A, Aguiar G, Guayasamin JM (2020) Phyllodactylus baurii. In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J, Guayasamin JM (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: www.reptilesofecuador.com

Literature cited:

  1. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  2. Steadman DW (1986) Holocene vertebrate fossils from Isla Floreana, Galápagos. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 413: 1–103.
  3. Van Denburgh J (1912) Expedition of the California Academy of Sciences to the Galápagos Islands, 1905-1906. VI. The geckos of the Galápagos Archipelago. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 1: 405–430.
  4. Christian EJ (2017) Demography and conservation of the Floreana racer (Pseudalsophis biserialis biserialis) on Gardner-by-Floreana and Champion islets, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. PhD thesis, Auckland, New Zealand, Massey University.
  5. IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List categories and criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland and Cambridge, 30 pp.
  6. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington, 882 pp.
  7. Garman S (1892) The reptiles of the Galápagos Islands. Bulletin of the Essex Institute 24: 73–87.