Historical biogeography, phylogenetic relationships and intraspecific diversity of agamid lizards in the Central Asian deserts of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Jane Melville, Joshua Hale, Georgia Mantziou, Natalia B. Ananjeva, Konstantin Milto, Nick Clemann

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37 Citations (Scopus)


The Central Asian agamid lizards are ecologically and morphologically diverse, occurring across a broad range of desert environments in this biogeographically important region. It is probable that past climatic shifts have significantly influenced the diversification patterns and distributions of the agamid lizards of this region. To assess this within a phylogenetic framework we sequenced a ∼1200 bp region of mitochondrial DNA and a ∼1200 bp nuclear gene (RAG-1), incorporating both inter- and intraspecific sampling across Central Asian agamids. Our topology and divergence time estimates support an Eocene origin of the Agaminae subfamily on the Indian subcontinent, coinciding with the collision of India into Eurasia. The onset of aridification in Central Asia during the Late Oligocene, resulting from the retreat of the Paratethys Sea and the intensified uplift of the Tibetan-Himalayan complex, probably played an important role in the diversification of Phrynocephalus, one of the three genera studied. Intensification of aridity and geologic events in the Plio-Pleistocene and Quaternary glacial cycling probably had a significant influence on intraspecific diversification patterns within Phrynocephalus. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-112
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Agamidae
  • Central Asia
  • Deserts
  • Laudakia
  • Phrynocephalus
  • Phylogeography
  • Relaxed molecular clock
  • Trapelus

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