TitleDiversifying on the Ark: multiple new endemic lineages of dwarf geckos from the Western Ghats provide insights into the systematics and biogeography of South Asian (Reptilia: Squamata).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsPal S, Mirza ZA, Dsouza P, Shanker K
JournalZool Res
Date Published2021 Nov 18

The highly speciose gekkonid genus 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 , 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 ; 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 species along with their distribution and natural history. We described 12 new species and a southern WG endemic clade of SA 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 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.

Alternate JournalZool Res
PubMed ID34581029