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Allan's lerista

Common name: Allan's lerista, Allan's skink, Retro slider

Scientific name: Lerista allanae

Family: Scincidae (skinks)

Conservation status: Allan's lerista is listed as Endangered in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nationally (Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). It is ranked as a high priority under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Back on Track species prioritisation framework.

Prior to 2010, 13 museum specimens comprised the total knowledge base of Allan's lerista. All individuals were collected in one of three locations (Retro, Logan Downs and Clermont) in close proximity to one another, between 1929 and 1960. As there had been no records since 1960, it was feared that the species was extinct. However, a survey in March 2010 by Queensland Government and Queensland Museum staff confirmed that this species is still present in the Clermont region. Six individuals were located and measurements, photographs and genetic samples were taken (Borsboom et al. 2010).

Description

Allan's lerista is a moderately robust burrowing skink. It has a snout-vent length of 70-90 mm and a total length (including the tail) of 100-140 mm. This species has no forelimbs, but there is a faint groove on each side marking their position. Each hindlimb has a single digit.

Its general appearance is grey or grey-brown above, with darker-edged individual scales forming five longitudinal lines of dark spots. Its sides are paler with the individual scale finely spotted with dark brown. Its underside is whitish, while the scales on the throat (and sometimes the chest and belly) are dark spotted.

Habitat and distribution

The few older records of this species indicated that Allan’s lerista was confined to the undulating, black soil downs of the central Brigalow Belt bioregion. Individuals lived underground and were found in the root systems of grass tussocks on black soils. However, this may not be the case now given that the recent records were found in rich brown surface soils and associated leaf litter. The soils in which Allan’s lerista is found are fairly loose, which probably plays an important role in the skink’s habitat preference.

Life history and behaviour

Very little is known of the behaviour of Allan's lerista. It is thought to burrow and reside in black soil under tussocks of grass. Based on other Lerista species and where the most recent specimens were found, it is likely to be crepuscular (active at twilight) to nocturnal (active at night) and feed in the surface leaf litter for small insects.

Threatening processes

Virtually all of the preferred habitat of Allan’s lerista has been cultivated and no longer supports natural vegetation. The likely reasons for the decline of Allan's lerista include a combination of overgrazing by stock, pasture improvement, intensive cropping and predation by feral animals.

Current threats to the species need to be confirmed, but are probably the lack of available habitat, overgrazing by stock, further habitat degradation from the introduction of buffel grass Cenchrus ciliaris and other weeds, inappropriate fire regimes and predation by feral cats.

Recovery actions

Recommended actions include:

  • Survey known and potential habitat within the species’ range to confirm the threats and recovery actions required, and expand the information on species’ range, population status, biology and ecology.
  • Work with local governments and land managers to protect habitat on the land/road sides where the species occurs, and on potential habitat (such as the stock route network).
  • For road sides where the species occurs, restrict machinery disturbance, herbicide application, gravel extraction, leaf litter loss, grazing or removal of trees and shrubs.
  • Develop community awareness within the species' known range. Encourage schools participating in reptile educational programs to adopt a local reptile species as their school icon. Encourage local governments participating in recovery actions to adopt a local reptile species as the shire icon.

Related information

Borsboom AC, Couper PJ, Amey A, Hobson R & Wilson SK 2010. Rediscovery of the endangered Retro Slider (Lerista allanae) in the Clermont region of central Queensland (see availability)

Cogger, HG, Cameron, EE, Sadlier, RA & Eggler, P 1993, The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra.

Curtis, LK, Dennis, AJ, McDonald, KR, Kyne, PM and Debus, SJS (eds) 2012, Queensland’s Threatened Animals, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

Wilson, S & Swan, G 2003, A complete guide to reptiles of Australia. New Holland Publishers: Sydney.

Available from the library catalogue

The documents referred to on this page are available from the department’s online library catalogue.

Last updated
2 May 2013