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Gastrointestinal helminths of the black-tailed brush lizard, Urosaurus nigricaudus (phrynosomatidae), from Baja California Sur, Mexico.

The black-tailed brush lizard, Urosaurus nigrieaudus (Cope, 1864), is found in a variety of habitats along the eastern side of the Peninsular Ranges from San Diego County, California, southward to the Cape Region of Baja California (Grismer 2002). This note constitutes the first report of helminths from U. nigricaudus.

Forty-two adult U. nigricaudus, (mean snout-vent length (SVL) = 44.6 mm [+ or -] 3.1 SD, range = 38-51 mm), collected 1977-1978 in the vicinity of La Paz, (24[degrees] 10'N, 110[degrees] 20'W) Baja California Sur, Mexico, were examined (Appendix). The sample consisted of 28 males (mean SVL = 45.5 mm [+ or -] 2.8 SD, range = 39-51 mm) and 18 females (mean SVL = 42.7 [+ or -] 3.0 SD, range = 38-48 mm). Adult males are typically larger than females as was the case in this sample (unpaired t test, t = 2.99, P = 0.005, df = 40). Specimens were fixed in 10% formalin and preserved in 70% ethanol. The digestive tracts were removed, opened longitudinally and the contents of the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines were searched in situ for helminths using a dissecting scope in July 2002. Helminths were placed on microscope slides, cleared in a drop of concentrated glycerol under a coverslip, and identified with a compound microscope.

Gravid individuals of two species of Nematoda, Strongyluris similis Caballero, 1938, Thubunaea iguanae Telford, 1965 and one cystacanth of a species of oligacanthorhynchid Acanthocephala were found. Two male U. nigricaudus harbored 1 male Strongyluris similis each (one in the stomach, one in the large intestine); 3 male U. nigricaudus harbored 7 female Thubunaea iguanae, 1, 1, 5, respectively (all in stomachs); 1 male U. nigricaudus harbored 1 oligacanthorhynchid cystacanth (in the body cavity). No host had a dual infection. Prevalence (number of infected lizards divided by sample size) was 5%, 7%, and 2%, respectively. Mean intensity [+ or -] (mean number of helminths per infected lizard) was 1 [+ or -] 0, 2 [+ or -] 2 SD, and 1 [+ or -] 0, respectively. Helminths were placed in vials of 70% ethanol and deposited in the United States National Parasite Collection, (USNPC), Beltsville, Maryland: Strongyluris similis 92433; Thubunaea iguanae 92434; acanthocephalan cystacanth 92435.

Thubunaea iguanae was previously found in the Isla Cerralvo spiny lizard, Sceloporus grandaevus, from Cerralvo Island, Baja California Sur (Goldberg et al. 2002) and from unidentified lizards from Baja California (Telford 1965). Other North American lizard hosts include Callisaurus draconoides, Cnemidophorus hyperythrus, C. tigris, Coleonyx variegatus, Gambelia wislizenii, Sceloporus magister, S. orcutti, Uma exsul, and Uta stansburiana (Baker 1987). Urosaurus nigricaudus represents a new host record for Thubunaea iguanae.

Strongyluris similis was originally described by Caballero (1938) from Sceloporus torquatus collected in the Districto Federal, Mexico. It was reported from Sceloporus jarrovii collected from eight other Mexican states (Goldberg et al. 1996) as well as in Sceloporus nelsoni from Nayarit (Mayen-Pena and SalgadoMaldonado 1998), Sceloporus formosus from Oaxaca, and Sceloporus mucronatus from the Mexican states of Hidalgo and Mexico (Goldberg et al. 2003). It also occurs in sceloporine lizards from Arizona (Sceloporus jarrovii, Goldberg et al. 1995a) and Texas (Sceloporus grammicus, S. merriami, S. olivaceus, S. serrifer, S. undulatus, S. variabilis Goldberg et al. 1995b). The Goldberg et al. (1999) record of Strongyluris rubra in Urosaurus microscutatus should be corrected as Strongyluris similis. Strongyluris similis appears to occur primarily in Mexico, reaching its northern distributional limit in the southwestern United States. Urosaurus nigricaudus represents a new host record for Strongyluris similis and Baja California Sur is a new locality record.

Moravec et al. (1990) reviewed North and Central American species of Strongyluris (S. rubra Harwood, 1935; S. similis; S. ranae Reiber, Byrd and Parker, 1940; S. acaudata Caballero, 1941; S. riversidensis Edgerley, 1952; and S. readi Rothmann, 1954) and suggested that these species were identical based upon morphological similarity, host type, and geographical distribution. However, using caudal papillae patterns, spicule lengths and other morphological differences, Bursey et al. (2003) considered them to be valid species

Acanthocephalan cystacanths have been reported from Ctenosaura pectinata, Phyllodactylus lanei, Sceloporus jarrovii and S. merriami collected in Mexico (Guajardo-Martinez 1984; Goldberg et al. 1996; Mayen-Pena and Salgado-Maldonado 1998) and from Cnernidophorus dixoni, C. gularis, C. neomexicanus, C. septemvittatus, C. sonorae, C. tigris, C. uniparens, Cophosaurus texanus, Eumeces gilberti, Sceloporus jarrovii, S. magister, and S. merriami from the southwestern United States (Telford 1970; Benes 1985; Goldberg and Bursey 1990; McAllister 1990a,b, 1992; Goldberg et al. 1995b; McAllister et al. 1991, 1995). Species of acanthocephalans require an arthropod host (Schmidt 1985), and because cystacanths are frequently found in cysts, the possibility of lizards as paratenic hosts must be considered. This is the first report of cystacanths in the genus Urosaurus.

Urosaurus nigricaudus is the fourth species within the genus to be examined for helminths (Table 1). It is apparent that the helminth fauna, while varying between species, is depauperate. The reasons for low helminth diversity in North American species of Urosaurus are yet to be determined.


Specimens of Urosaurus nigricaudus examined from the herpetology collection of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM): 126101, 126103, 126104, 126107-126111, 126117, 126118, 126121-126123, 126125, 128182, 128183, 128185-128198, 128200-128202, 128204, 128205, 128213-128215, 128220, 128224, 128232
Table 1. Helmith from species of Urosaurus in North America.

Lizard species Herminth Locality

Urosaurus graciosus Mesocestoides California
 Oochoristica sp. California
 Oochoristica scelopori California
 Physaloptera sp. California
 (3rd stage larvae)

Urosaurus microscutatus Oochoristica sp. California
 Spauligodon gigantricus California
 Strongyluris similis* California

Urosaurus nigricaudus Strongyluris similis* Baja California Sur
 Thubunaea iguanae Baja California Sur
 acanthocephalan Baja California Sur

Urosaurus ornatus Mesocestoides sp. Arizona
 New Mexico
 Oochosristica sp. New Mexico
 Parathelandros texanus Texas
 Pharyngodon sp. Arizona
 Pharyngodon warneri Arizona
 Spauligodon giganticus Arizona, New Mexico
 Physaloptera sp (3rd New Mezico
 stage larvae)

Lizard species Reference

Urosaurus graciosus Telford 1970
 Mankau and Widmer 1977
 Golberg et al. 1993a
 Telford 1970
 Golberg et al. 1993a

Urosaurus microscutatus Golberg et al. 1993
 Golberg et al. 1993
 Golberg et al. 1993

Urosaurus nigricaudus this paper
 this paper
 this paper

Urosaurus ornatus Benes 1985
 Golberg et al. 1993b
 Golberg et al. 1993b
 Specian and Ubelaker 1974
 Benes 1985
 Walker and Matthias 1973
 Golberg et al. 1993b
 Golberg et al. 1993b

* Originally identified as Strongyluris rubra.


We thank D. Kizirian (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County) for permission to examine specimens.

Literature Cited

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Accepted for publication 12 December 2002.

Stephen R. Goldbergj

(1)Department of Biology, Whittier College, Whittier, California 90608 e-mail:

Charles R. Bursey2

(2) Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, Shenango Campus, Sharon, Pennsylvania 16146 e-mail:

Kent R. Beaman(3)

(3) Section of Herpetology, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90007 e-mail:
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Title Annotation:Research Notes
Author:Goldberg, Stephen R.; Bursey, Charles R.; Beaman, Kent R.
Publication:Bulletin (Southern California Academy of Sciences)
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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