Corucia zebrata Solomon Islands Skinks

Status in nature

Corucia zebrata naturally occurs on all island of the Salomon archipelago. Even very small isles are inhabited (McCoy, 1996; Hagen et al. 2012). Corucia lives on trees and their distribution is linked to the tropical rain forest.

Corucia and its habitats are threatened due to extensive habitat destruction.

Most recent in situ- studies attest clearly, that the different genetically distinguishable forms of Corucia represent different distribution areas / different islands of the Salomon archipelago.  
Moreover, islands where natural ecotonal forms between different forms of Corucia may exist, have been identified (Hagen et al., 2012).
By all means the existence of genetically different forms of Corucia on specific islands is now a proven fact.

Hagen et al. (2012)describes – reiterated in a condensed form-   a complex, phylogeographic network:

  • Corucia zebrata – populations from different islands of the archipelago are genetically different.  At least five genetic networks are capable of being differentiated.  These networks consist of  the following islands: Malaita/ Makira, Guadalcanal, Isabel, Choiseul/Western Province, Shortland Islands
  • Populations from islands,  were connected by land bridges during the last ice age differ among each other genetically marginal to a lesser extent, compared to those populations which lived on permanently isolated island of the archipelago.
  • The Corucia - population located on the proposed geological oldest islands of the archipelago (Malaita, Makira) is the phylogenetically farthest compared with populations on other islands.
  • Between the populations located on the geological youngest islands (Western Province) and the population on Choiseul- representing a geological old island- close genetic connections were reported. There is evidence to suggest that populating of the Western Provinces took place from there.

Relating to the sub-species and so called „ Bougainville“-form, Corucia zeb. alfredschmidti some specifics must be reported:

  • Corucia from Bougainville could not be sampled due to political issues in Papua Neuguinea.
  • The appearance of the population located on the Shortland islands ca. 8 kilometers south of Bougainville, corresponds to animals, which have been described as sub-species C.z. alfredschmidti from Bougainville.
  • A genetic connection between Corucia from the Shortland Islands to populations located on the islands of Choiseul and Isabel can be reported.
  • A natural hybridation between C.z. alfredschmidti and Corucia zebrata seems to be possible.

Population in captivity

It cannot be retraced if all species in captivity, be it those in possession of private individuals or zoos, were originally imported from those islands of the Salomon archipelago whose name appears and is used for their description.
A major number of prehensile tailed skinks have been exported to Europe and USA in the eighties and early nineties of the last century. Exact documents of origin do not exist, except some single exceptions.
Today it is strictly prohibited to import or export Corucia zebrata. They are listed in appendix II of the Cites convention.