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Phylogeny and biogeography of the most diverse clade of South American gymnophthalmid lizards (Squamata, Gymnophthalmidae, Cercosaurinae)
- Torres-Carvajal, Omar, Lobos, Simón E., Venegas, Pablo J., Chávez, Germán, Aguirre-Peñafiel, Vanessa, Zurita, Daniel, Echevarría, Lourdes Y.
- Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2016 v.99 pp. 63-75
- Squamata, biogeography, genes, lizards, mitochondria, monophyly, paraphyly, taxonomy, tropics, Andes region, Ecuador, Peru
- Nearly 50% of the diversity of the speciose Neotropical lizard clade Gymnophthalmidae is nested within the subclade Cercosaurinae. The taxonomy of Cercosaurinae lizards has been historically confusing because many diagnostic characters of those clades traditionally ranked as genera do not represent true diagnostic apomorphies. Even though molecular phylogenies of several ‘genera’ have been presented in the last few years, some of them remain poorly sampled (e.g., Anadia, Echinosaura, Potamites, Riama). In this paper we present a more comprehensive phylogeny of Cercosaurinae lizards with emphasis on Andean taxa from Ecuador and Peru, as well as a time-calibrated phylogeny with reconstruction of ancestral areas. Our analysis includes 52% of all recognized species of Cercosaurinae (67 species) and 1914 characters including three mitochondrial and one nuclear gene. We find that Anadia, Echinosaura, Euspondylus, Potamites, Proctoporus, and Riama are not monophyletic: the Tepuian Anadia mcdiarmidi is not sister to Andean species of Anadia; Echinosaura sulcarostrum is not included in the same clade formed by other species of Echinosaura and their more recent common ancestor; Teuchocercus is nested within Echinosaura; species of Euspondylus included in this study are nested within Proctoporus; Riama laudahnae is included in Proctoporus; and Potamites is paraphyletic and split in two separate clades, one of which we name Gelanesaurus, also a new genus-group name. Within Potamites, P. ecpleopus is paraphyletic, and P. strangulatus strangulatus and P. strangulatus trachodus are recognized as two distinct species. We also identify three unnamed clades (i.e., not nested within any of the recognized ‘genera’) from Andean populations in Ecuador and Peru. The estimated age of the clade Cercosaurinae (∼60Ma) corresponds to the early stages of the northern Andes. Even though the distribution of the most recent common ancestor of Cercosaurinae remains equivocal, our analysis shows that these lizards colonized and radiated along the northern Andes before reaching the central Andes in Peru. Finally, we present phylogenetic definitions for some of the recovered clades to promote a clear and precise classification of Cercosaurinae lizards.