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Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

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The gecko genus Phyllopezus occurs across South America’s open biomes: Cerrado, Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests (SDTF, including Caatinga), and Chaco. We generated a multi-gene dataset and estimated phylogenetic relationships among described Phyllopezus taxa and related species. We included exemplars from both described Phyllopezus pollicaris subspecies, P. p. pollicaris and P. p. przewalskii. Phylogenies from the concatenated data as well as species trees constructed from individual gene trees were largely congruent. All phylogeny reconstruction methods showed Bogertia lutzae as the sister species of Phyllopezus maranjonensis, rendering Phyllopezus paraphyletic. We synonymized the monotypic genus Bogertia with Phyllopezus to maintain a taxonomy that is isomorphic with phylogenetic history. We recovered multiple, deeply divergent, cryptic lineages within P. pollicaris. These cryptic lineages possessed mtDNA distances equivalent to distances among other gekkotan sister taxa. Described P. pollicaris subspecies are not reciprocally monophyletic and current subspecific taxonomy does not accurately reflect evolutionary relationships among cryptic lineages. We highlight the conservation significance of these results in light of the ongoing habitat loss in South America’s open biomes.


Accepted version. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Vol. 62, No. 3 (March 2012): 943-953. DOI. © 2012 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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