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Systematics, biogeography and evolution of the endemic Hemidactylus geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae) of the Cape Verde Islands: based on morphology and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences

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Arnold, E. N., Vasconcelos, R., Harris, D. J., Mateo, J. A. & Carranza, S. (2008). Systematics, biogeography and evolution of the endemic Hemidactylus geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae) of the Cape Verde Islands: based on morphology and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. —Zoologica Scripta, 37, 619–636.

A total of 1854 bp of mitochondrial DNA (669 bp of cytochrome b (cyt b) and 386 bp of 12S rRNA), and 804 bp of a nuclear gene (RAG2) were investigated in endemic Hemidactylus from eight Cape Verde Islands, and used to explore their phylogeny, biogeography and evolution. Maximum-likelihood, maximum-parsimony and Bayesian analyses based on mtDNA revealed four well-supported clades with uncorrected genetic divergences of 7.8–12.4% in the cyt b plus 12S rRNA genes, which were also supported by nuclear DNA. A population from the southern island of Fogo is the most divergent in both molecules and morphology and is described as Hemidactylus lopezjuradoi sp. n., and the populations on Sal and Boavista are also assigned species status as H. boavistensis. Although divergent in their DNA, the clade on S. Nicolau and that in the north-western islands are morphologically similar and both are assigned to H. bouvieri for the present. Hemidactylus b. razoensis from Raso is genetically similar to H. b. bouvieri and differs only in its smaller body size. A molecular clock suggests that the ancestor of the endemic Hemidactylus of the Cape Verde Islands colonized the archipelago approximately 10 ± 2.48 Mya, perhaps reaching the north-eastern islands first. The H. lopezjuradoi lineage separated soon after, and the north-western islands were colonized progressively but slowly, S. Nicolau probably being reached first, then S. Vicente and islands on the same bank, and finally Sto. Antão, which is likely to have been colonized less than 1 Mya. Hemidactylus boavistensis is abundant on the arid islands where it occurs, but H. bouvieri appears to have been uncommon at least since it was described 130 years ago, and the same may be true of H. lopezjuradoi sp. n. The impact of introduced H. angulatus and H. mabouia on the endemic Hemidactylus of the Cape Verde Islands is not clear, but the discovery of substantial genetic diversity in endemic Cape Verde Hemidactylus means that the conservation requirements of the group should be reassessed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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