Liolaemus lutzae Mertens, 1938 is a critically endangered lizard endemic to the restinga habitat of the state of Rio de Janeiro. We surveyed 25 restinga habitats in order to locate remaining populations, evaluate the status of the species, and determine the nature of local habitat degradation. We found remnant populations of L. lutzae in 18 restinga habitats of six municipalities. The conservation status of each population varied between areas: the population of Grumari, in Rio de Janeiro municipality, is the most preserved and the population of Praia do Forte, in Cabo Frio, is the most disturbed. No L. lutzae were found in Niterói municipality. The most destructive type of habitat degradation identified was the removal of beach vegetation associated with the construction of coastal roads and/or sidewalks, destruction of the vegetation due to trampling, vehicle traffic and garbage dumping. Our data revealed that generally, beach habitats under a larger number of impact sources were those with smaller population sizes of L. lutzae. We consider that the most effective conservation measure for L. lutzae is the strict protection of its habitat, with restoration of the original beach vegetation. Finally, we recommend vegetation recovery to be followed by a program of reintroduction of the species in localities where it has been eradicated
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