Volume 42 Issue 6
Nov.  2021
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Article Contents
Saunak Pal, Zeeshan A. Mirza, Princia Dsouza, Kartik Shanker. Diversifying on the Ark: multiple new endemic lineages of dwarf geckos from the Western Ghats provide insights into the systematics and biogeography of South Asian Cnemaspis (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoological Research, 2021, 42(6): 675-691. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2021.074
Citation: Saunak Pal, Zeeshan A. Mirza, Princia Dsouza, Kartik Shanker. Diversifying on the Ark: multiple new endemic lineages of dwarf geckos from the Western Ghats provide insights into the systematics and biogeography of South Asian Cnemaspis (Reptilia: Squamata). Zoological Research, 2021, 42(6): 675-691. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2021.074

Diversifying on the Ark: multiple new endemic lineages of dwarf geckos from the Western Ghats provide insights into the systematics and biogeography of South Asian Cnemaspis (Reptilia: Squamata)

doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2021.074
Funds:  This study was supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (Western Ghats), DBT-IISc Partnership Programme and Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Singinawa Conservation Foundation, and Rufford Small Grant
More Information
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: herps.saunak@gmail.com
  • Received Date: 2021-06-07
  • Accepted Date: 2021-09-22
  • Available Online: 2021-09-23
  • Publish Date: 2021-11-18
  • The highly speciose gekkonid genus Cnemaspis Strauch, 1887 is polyphyletic, with three distantly related and geographically isolated clades from Africa, South Asia (SA), and Southeast Asia. At present, there are 85 known species within SA Cnemaspis, although the number continues to increase rapidly with focused surveys and rigorous taxonomic work. Recent studies have provided valuable insights into the diversity and evolutionary history of SA Cnemaspis; however, most of these studies lack sufficient sampling in the Western Ghats (WG), where the genus has its greatest diversity. We addressed this research gap by conducting extensive sampling across the WG and re-examining museum specimens, thus providing a systematic account of various extant Cnemaspis species along with their distribution and natural history. We described 12 new species and a southern WG endemic clade of SA Cnemaspis. Ten of the newly described species are endemic to the forests of the southern WG. We also identified 10 well-supported subclades that can be separated across morphological, geographic, and phylogenetic axes. A time-calibrated phylogeny and ancestral area reconstructions confirmed the Paleocene origin of SA Cnemaspis in the WG and provide insights into its evolutionary history and biogeography. The discovery of multiple endemic and deeply divergent lineages further highlights the evolutionary significance of the WG for lizards.
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