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More evidence of cryptic diversity in Anatololacerta species complex Arnold, Arribas and Carranza, 2007 (Squamata: Lacertidae) and re-evaluation of its current taxonomy

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-27, 09:16 authored by Danae Karakasi, Çetin Ilgaz, Yusuf Kumlutaş, Kamil Candan, Özgür Güçlü, Tolga Kankılıç, Nurettin Beşer, Roberto Sindaco, Petros Lymberakis, Nikos Poulakakis

Genetic diversity is not always congruent with phenotypic heterogeneity, resulting in cryptic species complexes which cause a great struggle for scientists trying to define ‘species’ and describe relationships among taxa. Anatololacerta is a lizard genus distributed in southern and western Anatolia and some neighboring Aegean islands. Three morphospecies were recognized in Anatololacerta but a recent molecular study revealed the presence of cryptic diversity within the genus which led to the raise of a subspecies to species level. Currently the genus includes the species A. anatolica, A. danfordi, A. budaki and A. pelasgiana. Using a comprehensive sampling concerning both the number of specimens (218 specimens) and the genetic markers (3 nuclear and 3 mitochondrial), we performed phylogenetic analyses including tree reconstruction, species delimitation and divergence times estimation. The results revealed the occurrence of one more cryptic lineage which should be regarded as a separate species for which the name A. ibrahimi stat. nov. has priority. The existence of five well differentiated species with parapatric distributions in Anatololacerta is strongly supported. There is also evidence of recent and rapid radiation of the genus which probably causes phylogenetic relationships between these species to remain largely unresolved. At last, we proceeded to some nomenclatorial changes: The current name A. budaki was synonymized with A. pelasgiana because specimens of the type-locality of A. budaki are assigned genetically to A. pelasgiana. The genetic lineage including specimens currently assigned to A. budaki was named A. finikensis stat. nov., raising the subspecies A. b. finikensis to species level.


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