The conservation status and serious threat to Acanthodactylus boskianus (DAUDIN, 1802) (Sauria:Lacertidae) in Harsin, Kermanshah, Iran

The conservation status and serious threat to Acanthodactylus boskianus (DAUDIN, 1802) (Sauria:Lacertidae) in Harsin, Kermanshah, Iran



Field survey was conducted to the Harsin region in June 2011. The known Acanthodactylus boskianus habitat, 2 km west of Harsin, is during recent years destroyed by human activity. During 1 day of field work in this region, only one specimen of Acanthodactylus boskianus was found in a hill that remained intact from agricultural activity. The Acanthodactylus boskianus habitat consists of vegetation, with Astragalus as a key species, providing shelter from enemies. New specimens of the species were found on the grounds of a meteorological station on the other side of the road, where the lizards were not affected by the activities of the farmers. We must suggest the Department of Environment to protect the lizards in this region by controlling the remaining habitat around the meteorological station.

Keywords: Harsin, Acanthodactylus boskianus, Meteorological Station, Human activity.


The lacertid lizard genus Acanthodactylus WIEGMAN, 1834 consists of about 41 species, distributed in the Iberian Peninsula (a single species), most of North Africa (including the Sahara and Sahel), the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East (including Cyprus), east to north-western India (SINDACO & JEREMCENKO 2008; UETZ 2012). Six species of this genus occur in Iran, mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country including: A. micropholis BLANFORD, 1874; A. grandis BOULENGER, 1909; A. schmidti HAAS, 1957; A. blanfordi BOULENGER, 1918; A. nilsoni RASTEGAR-POUYANI, 1998; A. boskianus (DAUDIN, 1802) (ANDERSON 1999; RASTEGAR-POUYANI et al. 2008). SINDACO & JEREMCENKO (2008) have suggested the possible occurrence of A. cantoris GÜNTHER, 1864 in the south-east of Iran, based on the presence of this species in the vicinity of the Afghanistan-Iranian border, but it has not been recorded from Iran.

RASTEGAR-POUYANI (1999) has reported A. boskianus for the first time inside the Iranian territory based on three specimens (two adults and one juvenile) collected from the Kermanshah province (West of Harsin, 34°17́’N and 47°24’E) in western Iran during expedition work on the Iranian Plateau in 1995 and 1996. The second time this species was reported in Iran from the Ilam province (46°08’E and 33°19’N, close to the Iran-Iraq border) by FATHINIA et al. (2009).

The status of A. boskianus in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is considered of least concern (COX et al. 2006), but regarding the limited presence of this taxon, only reported from two localities, its conservation status is still unclear in Iran.


The habitat of A. boskianus is in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. The main vegetation is comprised of Noaea mucronata, Salsola spp., Prosopis farcta, Astragalus golicucanthus, Pteropyrum naufelum, Atraphaxis spinosa, and Astragalus spp. shrubs. The habitat is mainly composed of gypsum and limestone deposits with deep crevices and holes.


The Iranian Plateau herpetofauna has suffered from numerous devastating factors. The high rate of human population growth in Iran, coupled with the relatively low standard of living, has created social conditions that act to erode the remaining expanses of undisturbed vegetation, including those located within protected areas (RASTEGAR-POUYANI et al. 2011).

Materials and Methods

Field survey was carried out in June 2011 around Harsin for Acanthodactylus boskianus, but in spite of extensive searching in this region, only one specimen was found (Fig. 1) due to habitat loss by human activity (Fig. 2). The specimen was captured on a hill where the habitat was still intact (Fig. 3) and carried to the Zoology lab in Razi University and identified by reliable reference (RASTEGAR-POUYANI 2007; ANDERSON 1999). On the other side of the road of the original habitat, on the grounds of a meteorological station, not affected by agricultural activities, a healthy population of A. boskianus was found.

Results and Discussion

Habitat can be destroyed directly or indirectly by many human activities, most of which involve the clearing of land for other uses such as agriculture and building activities. Also with regard to the decline of this taxon from agricultural areas is the use of pesticides and herbicides applied to crops, which can poison the lizards, or decrease the number of insects, as main food supply of A. boskianus (ABD RABOU et al. 2007).

Another main threat to A. boskianus, in regard of having a suitable pasture in the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains, is the keeping of livestock, which is the most common human activity in Iran. Overgrazing is a serious threat to the habitat, because it is responsible for the destruction of shrubs that build the habitat of A. boskianus.

We were very glad in finding the population around the weather station, and hope with the aid of the Department of Environment of Kermanshah, we can prevent further destruction of this species in the region.

Figure 1. Acanthodactylus boskianus were found at the weather station near Harsin.

Figure 2. Area near Harsin where Acanthodactylus boskianus was first reported from inside Iran. The original habitat has altered into agricultural grounds.

Figure 3. Single hill, near Harsin, where the original habitat of Acanthodactylus boskianus remained intact. Consider the Astragalus plants that grow on it.


We thank the Razi University authorities for financial support during field work in the Harsin region, western Iran.


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SEYYED SAEED HOSSEINIAN YOUSEFKHANI, Iranian Plateau Herpetology Research Group (IPHRG), Faculty of Science, Razi University, 6714967346 Kermanshah, Iran.
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Razi University, 6714967346 Kermanshah, Iran.
NASRULLAH RASTEGAR POUYANI, Iranian Plateau Herpetology Research Group (IPHRG), Faculty of Science, Razi University, 6714967346 Kermanshah, Iran.
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Razi University, 6714967346 Kermanshah, Iran.
MAHBOUBEH SADAT HOSSEINZADEH, Department of Biology, Faculty of science, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.