Plestiodon septentrionalis - Baird, 1858
Prairie Skink
Other English Common Names: prairie skink
Synonym(s): Eumeces septentrionalis (Baird, 1858)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Eumeces septentrionalis (Baird, 1859) (TSN 173969)
French Common Names: scinque des prairies
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100228
Element Code: ARACH01100
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Lizards
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Scincidae Plestiodon
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Eumeces septentrionalis
Taxonomic Comments: In a phylogenetic analysis of Eumeces based on morphology, Griffith et al. (2000) proposed splitting Eumeces into multiple genera, based on the apparent paraphyly of Eumeces. Smith (2005) and Brandley et al. (2005) formally proposed that all North American species (north of Mexico) be placed in the genus Plestiodon. This was accepted by Crother (2008) and Collins and Taggart (2009).

MtDNA data suggest that colonization of E. septentrionalis into previously glaciated areas was from a single source with restricted gene flow (Fuerst and Austin 2004). Parsimony and maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses showed reciprocal monophyly between the allopatric northern (E. s. septentrionalis) and southern (E. s. obtusirostris) subspecies (Fuerst and Austin 2004). These results, combined with the morphological differences found in previous studies (Taylor 1935), suggest that these allopatric populations are on separate evolutionary trajectories (Fuerst and Austin 2004). Further sampling of southern populations is needed to elucidate the taxonomic status of the various populations. Collins and Taggart (2009) recognized Plestiodon obtusirostris as a distinct species (with two subspecies, obtusirostris and pallidus), whereas de Quieroz and Reeder (in Crother 2008, 2012) maintained these taxa in P. septentrionalis, pending further analyses.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Feb2016
Global Status Last Changed: 28Oct1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Oct1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (02Feb2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Arkansas (S2), Iowa (S3), Kansas (S4), Louisiana (S1), Minnesota (S5), Missouri (SNR), Nebraska (S5), North Dakota (S2S3), Oklahoma (S4), South Dakota (S5), Texas (S5), Wisconsin (S3)
Canada Manitoba (S1)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (14Jul2005)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (01May2004)
Comments on COSEWIC: This lizard is confined to a small region (less than 1700 km2) in Manitoba. It requires sandy soils and mixed grass prairie. Prairie habitat is being fragmented and lost to cultivation, Aspen succession and invasion by exotic leafy spurge. The Manitoba population is isolated from the rest of the species in the USA by over 100 km.

Designated Special Concern in April 1989. Status re-examined and designated as Endangered in May 2004. Last assessment based on an update status report.


IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The range extends from southern Manitoba, Minnesota, and northwestern Wisconsin south through the eastern Dakotas, Iowa, eastern Nebraska, Kansas and adjacent northwestern Missouri (Figg 1993), Oklahoma, and western Arkansas to coastal Texas and northwestern Louisiana (Conant and Collins 1991). Populations at the northern end of the range in southwestern Manitoba apparently are separated from the closest occurrences in Minnesota and North Dakota by 193 km and 280 km, respectively (Bredin, 1989 COSEWIC report). Toal and Reiserer (1992, Herpetol. Rev. 23:89) reported subspecies obtusirostris from southwestern Missouri.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This skink is represented by hundreds of occurrences or subpopulations. It is secretive and undoubtedly occurs in significantly more localities than current records indicate.

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 10,000. This species is secretive and more numerous than visual observations indicate.

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Presumably some habitat has been lost or degraded as a result of large-scale intensive cultivation, but overall no major widespread threats to remaining populations have been identified.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend is not documented but likely relatively stable. See Bredin (1989 COSEWIC report) for information on status in Canada (no evidence of decline).

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Some local populations probably have been eliminated or reduced, but no major decline has been reported.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The range extends from southern Manitoba, Minnesota, and northwestern Wisconsin south through the eastern Dakotas, Iowa, eastern Nebraska, Kansas and adjacent northwestern Missouri (Figg 1993), Oklahoma, and western Arkansas to coastal Texas and northwestern Louisiana (Conant and Collins 1991). Populations at the northern end of the range in southwestern Manitoba apparently are separated from the closest occurrences in Minnesota and North Dakota by 193 km and 280 km, respectively (Bredin, 1989 COSEWIC report). Toal and Reiserer (1992, Herpetol. Rev. 23:89) reported subspecies obtusirostris from southwestern Missouri.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AR, IA, KS, LA, MN, MO, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX, WI
Canada MB

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AR Polk (05113)*, Scott (05127)*
IA Clay (19041), Sac (19161), Warren (19181)
LA Caddo (22017), De Soto (22031)*, Morehouse (22067)*
MO Barton (29011), Gentry (29075), Harrison (29081), Platte (29165)*, Worth (29227)
ND Barnes (38003)*, Cass (38017), Ransom (38073), Richland (38077)*, Sargent (38081)*
WI Barron (55005), Burnett (55013), Douglas (55031), Polk (55095), Washburn (55129)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Namekagon (07030002)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Red Cedar (07050007)+, Middle Des Moines (07100004)+, North Raccoon (07100006)+, Lake Red Rock (07100008)+
08 Ouachita Headwaters (08040101)+*, Bayou Bartholomew (08040205)+*, Boeuf (08050001)+*
09 Bois De Sioux (09020101)+*, Otter Tail (09020103)+*, Upper Red (09020104)+*, Western Wild Rice (09020105)+*, Elm-Marsh (09020107)+, Lower Sheyenne (09020204)+
10 Upper James (10160003)+*, Little Sioux (10230003)+, Boyer (10230007)+, Independence-Sugar (10240011)+*, Upper Grand (10280101)+, Marmaton (10290104)+
11 Poteau (11110105)+*, Fourche La Fave (11110206)+*, Mountain Fork (11140108)+*, Bayou Pierre (11140206)+, Cross Bayou (11140304)+*, Caddo Lake (11140306)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Clutch size is about 4-18; averages 7-9 in Minnesota, 8 in Kansas, 11 in Nebraska, 9 in Texas; larger females produce larger clutches. Eggs hatch in 1-2 months (by mid-July in Iowa (Frese 2003). Sexually mature in 2 years (Somma 1987, Collins 1982). Female attends eggs until shortly after hatching.
Ecology Comments: In Minnesota, density in old fields ranged from 58 to 206 adults per ha, increasing with successional age (Pitt 2001).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Sand/dune, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Habitat includes open sandy areas of pine barrens and bracken grassland, grassy dunes, sandy banks of creeks and rivers and along roadsides, open grass-covered rocky hillsides near streams, and forest edges and woodland; this semifossorial lizard is often under ground cover. Eggs are laid in shallow nests dug in loose moist soil under logs, boards, rocks, or other objects (see Frese 2003).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects, spiders, snails, and smaller lizards (Collins 1982).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Active May-September in north (Vogt 1981).
Length: 21 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Skinks

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals (including eggs) in or near appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Busy highway or highway with obstructions such that lizards rarely if ever cross successfully; major river, lake, pond, or deep marsh; densely urbanized area dominated by buildings and pavement (but note that suburban areas are suitable habitat for some skinks).
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Individual skinks generaly have small home ranges. In Kansas, home range diameter of Eumeces fasciatus was approximately 27 m in males, 9 m in females; individuals sometimes shifted home range after hibernation (Fitch 1954).

Fitch (1955) found that Eumeces obsoletus generally is rather sedentary in the short term; most live in home ranges not more than 30 m in diameter. Adult males are more mobile than females and juveniles. Sometimes individuals make longer movements of 100 m or more. Home range location is rather fluid. Individuals often live in one area for awhile, then shift to another area. Hall (1971) reported a maximum home range size of about 800 sq m.

According to Ashton and Ashton (1991), home range size of Scincella lateralis may be less than 20 sq m.

The separation distance for unsuitable habitat reflects the nominal minimum value of 1 km. The separation distance for suitable habitat attempts to reflect the limited home ranges of these lizards, their secretive habits and consequent apparent absence in areas where they do in fact occur, their tendency to occur throughout patches of suitable habitat, and the likely low probability that two locations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .2 km
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 26Aug2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 26Aug2005
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society field guide to North American reptiles and amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 719 pp.

  • Brandley, M. C., A. Schmitz, and T. W. Reeder. 2005. Partitioned Bayesian analyses, partition choice, and the phylogenetic relationships of scincid lizards. Systematic Biology 54:373-390.

  • Bredin, E. 1989. Status report on the Northern Prairie Skink EUMECES SEPTEMTRIONALIS in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), Ottawa. 39 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1982. Amphibians and reptiles in Kansas. Second edition. Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist., Pub. Ed. Ser. 8. xiii + 356 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.

  • Collins, J. T. 1991. Viewpoint: a new taxonomic arrangement for some North American amphibians and reptiles. SSAR Herpetol. Review 22:42-43.

  • Collins, J. T. 1997. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. Fourth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Herpetolgical Circular No. 25. 40 pp.

  • Collins, J. T., and T. W. Taggart. 2009. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians, turtles, reptiles, and crocodilians. Sixth edition. The Center for North American Herpetology, Lawrance, Kansas. iv + 44 pp.

  • Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians: eastern and central North America. Third edition, expanded. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 616 pp.

  • Cook, F. R. 1984. Introduction to Canadian amphibians and reptiles. National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Sixth edition. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 37:1-84. Online with updates at: http://www.ssarherps.org/pages/comm_names/Index.php

  • Crother, B. I. (editor). 2012. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. 7th edition. SSAR Herpetological Circular 39:1-92.

  • Crother, B. I., editor. 2000. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular 29. 82 pp.

  • Dowling, H. G. 1993. Viewpoint: a reply to Collins (1991, 1992). Herpetol. Rev. 24:11-13.

  • Figg, D. E. 1993. Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife diversity report, July 1992-June 1993. 75 pp.

  • Fitch, H. S. 1970. Reproductive cycles of lizards and snakes. Univ. Kansas Museum Natural History Miscellaneous Publication 52:1-247.

  • Frese, P. W. 2003. Eumeces septentrionalis septentrionalis (northern prairie skink). Nesting behavior. Herpetological Review 34:143.

  • Fuerst, G. S., and C. A. Austin. 2004. Population genetic structure of the prairie skink (Eumeces septentrionalis): nested clade analysis of post Pleistocene populations. Journal of Herpetology 38:257-268.

  • Griffith, H., A. Ngo, and R. W. Murphy. 2000. A cladistic evaluation of the cosmopolitan genus Eumeces Wiegmann (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae). Russian Journal of Herpetology 7(1):1-16.

  • Pitt, W. C. 2001. Density of prairie skinks (Eumeces septentrionalis) in old-field habitats. American Midland Naturalist 146:86-93.

  • Smith, H. M. 2005. Plestiodon: a replacement name for most members of the genus Eumeces in North America. Journal of Kansas Herpetology 14:15-16.

  • Somma, L. A. 1987. Reproduction of the prairie skink, Eumeces septentrionalis, in Nebraska. Great Basin Nat. 47: 373-374.

  • Somma, L. A., and P. A. Cochran. 1989. Bibliography and subject index of the prairie skink, Eumeces septentrionalis (Baird) (Sauria: Scincidae). Great Basin Nat. 49:525-534.

  • Taylor, E.H. 1935. A Taxonomic Study of the Cosmopolitan Scincoid Lizards of the Genus Eumeces. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 23(1). 642 pp.

  • Vogt, R. C. 1981c. Natural history of amphibians and reptiles of Wisconsin. Milwaukee Public Museum. 205 pp.

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