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A new species of lizard discovered in Uzbekistan

05 may 2022
During the implementation of the small grant “Conservation of key natural complexes in the Fergana Valley (Republic of Uzbekistan)”, project experts discovered a new species of lizard.

Experts working on this project, which is a small grants project by the Michael Succow Foundation under the framework of a WWF small grant, have been conducting comprehensive research expeditions, aimed at studying the flora and fauna in the Ferghana valley of the Republic of Uzbekistan since 2021.

The main goal of the project is to study the local endemic fauna and conservation problems, and give conservation recommendations for the future.

The territory under study is home to a unique community of plants and animals, many of which are endemics and some of which are endangered, but the area is currently under heave anthropogenic disturbance. Because of the high population density, areas which in the past were considered unsuitable for agriculture are now being developed for agricultural activities, leading to habitat fragmentation and reduction for the rare endemic species.

Thus, many animals were on the verge of extinction, including rare species of lizards found in this area. At the moment, researchers have already taken a population survey, as well as started a genetic analysis of the tissue samples taken.

A key achievement became the discovery of a new species: a gecko of the Alsophylax genus. Marked morphological differences from other gecko species were confirmed by genetic analysis. The resulting phylogenetic tree confirmed that this gecko belongs to a species new to science. Its closest relatives, the even-fingered gecko (Alsophylax pipiens) and the southern even-fingered gecko (Alsophylax laevis) inhabit ranges at a significant distance from the project area.

Abduraupov Timur
«This discovery has great importance for the biodiversity of Uzbekistan and once again confirms the uniqueness of the Fergana Valley and the Yazyavan Sands ecosystem. It is becoming increasingly obvious that this natural area needs to be paid close attention. I hope that as a result of the project, there will be measured to further preserve this area and its endemic species», - said Yelizaveta Protas, Project Leader, WWF Russia Central Asian Program.

In the future, experts plan to provide more extensive research for publication in the international edition of Animals.

The conservation grant program for the Mountains of Central Asia Biodiversity Hotspot is coordinated by WWF Russia and funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. Developing the participation by Civil Society organizations in biodiversity conservation is one of the main goals of CEPF.

For additional information please contact
Central Asian Program manager