Phylogenetic relationships of semaphore geckos

My Master 2 project was supervised by Salvador Carranza (Insitute of Evolutionary Biology, Barcelona, Spain) and aimed to infer the phylogenetic relationships of the gecko genus Pristurus. The sphaerodactylid geckos of the genus Pristurus, also known as semaphore geckos, comprise 23-26 species characterized by being mostly diurnal and by signaling each other by waving their tails. Pristurus species behave more like desert agamid lizards than typical geckos. The genus Pristurus is distributed in Northeast Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Socotra Archipelago, coastal Iran and one isolated species was recently found in Mauritania more than 4700 km away from the rest of the species.

Photos from Badiane et al, 2014.

Photos from Badiane et al, 2014.

Despite the interest in Pristurus from a biogeographical, evolutionary, ecological and behavioral points of view, the genus has been relatively neglected, compared to other gecko groups from the same region like Hemidactylus and Stenodactylus, in terms of phylogenetic hypotheses and taxonomic updates. Pristurus rupestris is the most widely distributed species in the genus and comprises three subspecies, namely P. r. rupestris, P. r. iranicus, and P. r. guweirensis. We used molecular data to infer the phylogenetic relationships of the genus Pristurus and to revise the taxonomy of P. rupestris. The results indicates that P. rupestris is polyphyletic and includes two highly differentiated clades. These clades are also differentiated from a morphological point of view.

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