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Cuadernos de herpetología

versión On-line ISSN 1852-5768

Cuad. herpetol. vol.24 no.2 San Salvador de Jujuy ago./dic. 2010



Predation of Liolaemus huacahuasicus (Squamata: Iguania: Liolaemini) by Brachistosternus intermedius (Scorpiones: Bothriuridae) in Cumbres Calchaquies, Tucumán Province, Northwestern Argentina


Cristian Hernán Fulvio Pérez1, Luciano Javier Avila1 & Arley Camargo2

1 CENPAT-CONICET, Boulevard Almirante Guillermo Brown 2915, U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina.,,
2 Department of Biology, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, USA.

Recibido: 08/07/10
Revisado: 03/08/10

Aceptado: 02/09/10


Scorpions are often acknowledged as preying on lizards and other small squamates (Bauer, 1990; McCormick and Polis, 1990), but observations of predation are relatively rare under natural conditions. Large scorpions, such as Centruroides exilicauda have been reported to eat Phyllodactylus sp. (leaf-toed geckos), Parabuthus villosus prey on Pachydactylus rangei (palmate desert geckos), Hadrurus sp. feed on Leptotyphlops humilis (western blind snakes), and similar interactions have been reported for other scorpion-vertebrate pairs (McCormick and Polis, 1990).

In the course of a herpetological survey of the summit of the Cumbres Calchaquíes Mountains, on a rocky outcrop facing south east, near Provincial Road 352 (26º22'45.7"S, 65º43'54.7"W, 3612 m), 38.3 km W Hualinchay, Trancas Department, Tucumán Province, on 16 December 2009 at ca. 1500, we found an adult male scorpion (Brachistosternus intermedius) under a rock holding with the chelae and eating the remains of a neonate lizard (posterior midbody, missing tip of tail) (Fig. 1). We identified the remnant carcass as Liolaemus huacahuasicus with an estimated snout-vent length (SVL) of 30 mm and a tail length (TL) of 75 mm.Voucher specimens were housed in the herpetological collection LJAMM-CNP of the Centro Nacional Patagónico (CENPAT-CONICET), Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina (LJAMM-CNP13170). Liolaemus huacahuasicus is a medium-sized (SVL = 76 mm), viviparous, and insectivorous lizard inhabiting the Puna habitats of Cumbres Calchaquies Mountains, in Catamarca and Tucumán provinces, Argentina (Cei, 1993). Brachistosternus intermedius is a small scorpion that ranges from southwestern Bolivia to northwestern Argentina from 2500-4000 m (Ojanguren Affilastro, 2003); nothing is known about its natural history.

Figure 1. Brachistosternus intermedius and the remains of a neonate Liolaemus huacahuasicus found under a stone at thesummit of the Cumbres Calchaquíes Mountains, Tucumán Province, Argentina. Photograph by C. H. F. Perez.

At the time of our finding, numerous neonates of Liolaemus huacahuasicus were observed, sometimes in groups of two or three individuals together under rocks of different sizes, and usually with an adult female. According to Halloy and Halloy (1997) at the beginning of the summer (late December), females give birth to 4-8 young after 8-10 months of gestation. The scorpion was found in a tunnel beneath the rock eating the neonate L. huacahuasicus. There was another live neonate lizard at the end of the tunnel. During periods of food shortage, scorpions consume fewer, smaller prey, whereas during periods of food abundance, scorpions consume the most abundant prey available (McCormick and Polis, 1990). Given the abundance of juvenile lizards at this site during our surveys, neonate L. huacahuasicus likely constitute a common prey for scorpions when they are born each summer. To our knowledge, this is the first record of presumed predation of L. huacahuasicus by a scorpion (Brachistosternus intermedius).


We thank M. Morando and F. Werneck for commenting previous drafts of this note. M. Magnanelli identified the scorpion. Financial support for fieldwork was provided by NSF-OISE 0530267, FONCYT PICT 06-00506 and Field Support Grants from Brigham Young University (Monte L. Bean Museum) issued to J.W. Sites, Jr.


1 CEI, J.M. 1993. Reptiles del Noroeste, Noreste y Este de la Argentina. Scienze Naturali Torino Monografie 14: 1-949.         [ Links ]

2 BAUER, A.M. 1990. Gekkonid lizards as prey of invertebrates and predators of vertebrates. Herpetological Review 21: 83-87.         [ Links ]

3 HALLOY, M. & S. HALLOY. 1997. An indirect form of parental care in a high altitude viviparous lizard, Liolaemus huacahuasicus (Tropiduridae). Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 33: 139-155.         [ Links ]

4 MCCORMICK, S. & G.A. POLIS. 1990.Prey, predators, and parasites: 145-156. In: Polis, G.A. (ed.), Biology of Scorpions. Stanford University Press, California, USA.         [ Links ]

5 OJANGUREN AFFILASTRO, A.A. 2003. The genus Brachistosternus in Argentina, with a description of a new Patagonian species (Scorpiones, Bothriuridae). Journal of Arachnology 31: 317-330.         [ Links ]

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