Phylogeny and evolution of Malagasy plated lizards.
The endemic plated lizards (Gerrhosauridae) of Madagascar are one of the most diverse groups of lizards on the island (19 species) and are found in all ecoregions. On an island that presents so many interesting biological questions, plated lizards are an ideal group for examining patterns of diversification due to their high (but tractable) diversity and wide distribution. To resolve the taxonomy and evolutionary relationships of Malagasy plated lizards, and to explore their biogeographic history, we have generated a molecular phylogeny based on >2kb of both mitochondrial (cob, 1142 bp) and nuclear (NT-3, 419 bp; c-mos, 542 bp) DNA sequences. Phylogenetic relationships and divergence-time estimates indicate Zonosaurinae are monophyletic, arising from a single colonization event, likely from Africa to Madagascar in the Paleogene (Paleocene/early Eocene), with subsequent radiation. Furthermore, our results reveal widespread mischaracterization of species delimitation and assignment based on phenotypic characteristics. Paraphyly of a number of zonosaurine species was strongly supported by our dataset, revealing not only instances of likely cryptic species (phenotypic conservatism) but also phenotypic/genotypic discordance in the delimitation of species (phenotypic variability). These results clearly demonstrate the complex history of biotic diversification on Madagascar and provide novel insight into biogeographic patterns on the island.
Raselimanana, AP; Noonan, B; Karanth, KP; Gauthier, J; Yoder, AD
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