Reptiles

Posted in Fauna

Lacerta montícola23 species of reptiles are inventoried in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and its Peripheral Protection Zone, giving an idea of the crucial role the Sierra de Guadarrama plays in this fauna group preservation. Various directories focussed on the Iberian herpetofauna conservation critical zones, show the significance the Peñalara Massif and the Upper Manzanares Basin have. To some extent, both enclaves are river headwaters zones and they have stayed long time under different regional protection modalities, so they have maintained environmental conditions conducive to the conservation of these species ecosystems.  Some taxa specimens flourishing populations, together with the existence of many endemism, uphold these territories wealth, not only ato the regional level, but also to the national and European scale. The Sierra height and topographical features result in a progression of the temperature/rainfall ratio, enabling a great variety of biotopes which are optimal for the presence of reptiles.

Among the 23 mentioned species, the Iberian rock lizard, the Iberian emerald lizard, and the Common wall lizard distribution areas are limited to mountain environments. In the National Park, the highest species wealth appears significantly at intermediate altitudes, between 1,000 and 1,650 m, being undermined by the higher or lower altitude. This proves the importance of preserving the mid-altitude sites, that is to say the Sierra de Guadarrama slopes, which are conducive to the reptiles’ distribution.

Reptiles living in the National Park have a high rate of endemicity in a relatively small area, with the presence of 3 Iberian endemism -the Mediterranean worm lizard, the Iberian cylindrical skink, the Iberian emerald lizard - and one Sierra de Guadarrama endemism, the Cyren’s rock lizard. In addition, 6 of these species are classified at the Community of Madrid level (extinction danger status for the European pond turtle, vulnerable status for the Horseshoe whip snake, the Western false smooth snake, the Iberian rock lizard and the Mediterranean turtle, and special interest status for the Iberian emerald lizard), although none is classified at the national level.

One of the above mentioned species is included in the community of Madrid region Threatened Species Catalog as Lacerta monticola cyreni, having recently been elevated to the category of species currently called Cyren’s rock lizard (Iberolacerta cyreni). In addition, this species has healthy populations in the National Park, although this site is critically important for the preservation of this endemism, since it hosts the best population among those known in the Sierra de Guadarrama.

Down below you will find a brief description of the most representative reptiles living in the National Park high mountain environments:

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