A molecular phylogenetic study of ecological diversification in the Australian lizard genus Ctenophorus

J. Melville, J. A. Schulte, A. Larson

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We present phylogenetic analyses of the lizard genus Ctenophorus using 1,639 aligned positions of mitochondrial DNA sequences containing 799 parsimony-informative characters for samples of 22 species of Ctenophorus and 12 additional Australian agamid genera. Sequences from three protein-coding genes (ND1, ND2, and COI) and eight intervening tRNA genes are examined using both parsimony and maximum-likelihood analyses. Species of Ctenophorus form a monophyletic group with Rankinia adelaidensis, which we suggest placing in Ctenophorus. Ecological differentiation among species of Ctenophorus is most evident in the kinds of habitats used for shelter. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the ancestral condition is to use burrows for shelter, and that habits of sheltering in rocks and shrubs/hummock grasses represent separately derived conditions. Ctenophorus appears to have undergone extensive cladogenesis approximately 10-12 million years ago, with all three major ecological modes being established at that time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-353
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes

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