Heading East: a New Subspecies of Varanus salvator from Obi Island, Maluku Province, Indonesia, with a Discussion about the Easternmost Natural Occurrence of Southeast Asian Water Monitor Lizards

André Koch, Wolfgang Böhme


The Varanus salvator population from the Central Indonesian island of Obi, Maluku Province, is described as a new subspecies representing the most easterly confirmed occurrence of the widespread Southeast Asian water monitor lizard. The new taxon differs from the four recognized subspecies by unique characters of coloration and pattern such as a distinct dorsal pattern on the head in combination with reduced transverse rows on the anterior back which stand in contrast to the distinct and black-bordered, large light spots on the hind part of the body. In addition, the eastern border of the distribution range of the V. salvator complex is critically discussed in the light of historical voucher specimens from the Moluccas, New Guinea and even Australia. The Obi island record which had long been published but has never since been scrutinized, confirms the recently observed sympatric occurrence of members of the V. salvator and V. indicus species groups on several islands of the Moluccas. Further field investigations are needed to understand the different niche occupation between both these ecologically similar monitor lizard groups. Once more, our findings demonstrate the importance of the Central Indonesian islands of Wallacea as a global hotspot of varanid diversity and endemism.


Wallacea; Moluccas; Reptilia; Squamata; Varanidae; Varanus salvator ziegleri ssp. nov.; conservation; systematics; biogeography

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2010-17-4-299-309


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