TitleOn the systematics and the phylogenetic position of the poorly known, montane dragon-lizard species Pseudocalotes austeniana (Annandale, 1908) (Squamata, Agamidae, Draconinae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsGowande G, Bhosale H, Phansalkar P, Sawant M, Mirza ZA
JournalEvolutionary Systematics
Date Published06/2021

The montane agamid species Pseudocalotes austeniana has had a complicated taxonomic history, as the species was initially described as a member of the genus Salea Gray, 1845. Later, the species was placed in a monotypic genus Mictopholis Smith, 1935, which was erected only to include this species; however, the species was later on transferred to the genus Pseudocalotes Fitzinger, 1843, owing to the morphological similarities, and lack of strong characters to diagnose the genus Mictopholis. Nonetheless, its precise phylogenetic and systematic position has remained unresolved due to the lack of molecular sequence data. During a herpetological expedition to Arunachal Pradesh, specimens of P. austeniana were collected from the hills near the type locality. The mitochondrial 16S rRNA, ND2 and ND4, and the nuclear RAG1 regions were subjected to molecular phylogenetics. Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian Inference gene trees revealed that P. austeniana is a member of the subfamily Draconinae. The analyses showed that the genus Pseudocalotes is polyphyletic, and P. austeniana was embedded within the genus Japalura Gray, 1853 sensu stricto. We here, thus, propose to transfer the species P. austeniana to the genus Japlaura, as Japalura austeniana comb. nov. Biogeographic and evolutionary significance of the findings are discussed.