Evolutionary origins and diversification of dragon lizards in Australia's tropical savannas

Melville, J., Ritchie, E.G., Chapple, S.N.J., Glor, R.E., and Schulte II, J.A. (2011) Evolutionary origins and diversification of dragon lizards in Australia's tropical savannas. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 58 (2). pp. 257-270.

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Australia's monsoonal tropics are dominated by the largest and least modified savanna woodlands in the world, and they are globally significant for their high biodiversity and regional endemism. Despite this, there have been very few molecular studies of the evolutionary origins and diversification of vertebrates in this region. The semi-arboreal dragon lizards of Lophognathus and Amphibolurus are widely distributed in the savanna and dry sclerophyll woodlands of Australasia, including the monsoon tropics. We sequenced a ∼1400 bp region of mitochondrial DNA and a ∼1400 bp nuclear gene (RAG1) to investigate the phylogenetic relationships and phylogeographic structuring of all seven species of Lophognathus and Amphibolurus. Our analyses show that there is a higher level of species and generic diversity in the monsoon tropics than previously thought, and a full morphological review and taxonomic revision of these genera is required. Relaxed molecular clock analyses indicate that species across both genera originated in the late Miocene and early Pliocene, with significant phylogeographic structure within species. We did not find any evidence that the monsoon tropics species were a monophyletic group that had diversified within the region; instead Amphibolurus and Lophognathus represent at least three independent evolutionary colonizations of the monsoon tropics. It is probable that the origins and phylogeographic patterns of the northern Lophognathus species have evolved under the climatic influence of the Australian monsoon, rather than being either an ancient Gondwanan lineage that pre-dates the monsoon or the result of a more recent dispersal event across Wallace's Line.

Item ID: 21786
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9513
Keywords: Agamidae; tropical savannas; historical biogeography; molecular systematics; phylogeography; vicariance; monsoon tropics
Date Deposited: 21 May 2012 05:49
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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