Project 461: R. Sindaco, M. Metallinou, F. Pupin, M. Fasola, S. Carranza. 2012. Forgotten in the ocean: Systematics, biogeography and evolution of the Trachylepis skinks of the Socotra Archipelago. Zoologica Scripta. 41 (4):346-362.
Specimen: Trachylepis cristinae (MCC:R1585)
View: Lateral head

Abstract

The Socotra Archipelago, in the northwest Indian Ocean, is considered to be one of the most remote and most biodiversity rich and distinct islands in the world. Often referred to as the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean”, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Natural site in 2008. Despite having a very rich and bizarre fauna and flora with a high level of endemicity at both species and generic levels, the taxonomy of most of the groups is still not clear and their origin and evolution remains unknown. Reptiles constitute the most relevant vertebrate fauna of the Socotra Archipelago, with 90% of the 30 species and 45% of the 12 genera being found nowhere else in the World. The skinks of the endemic species Trachylepis socotrana are the only reptile species in the Archipelago distributed across all four islands (Socotra, Darsa, Samha and Abd Al Kuri). Although the species is very well known from Socotra Island, it was not discovered on Samha until 1999 and on Darsa until 2000, whereas only a few citations and one single Museum specimen exist for the population from Abd Al Kuri.
In order to clarify the systematics, biogeography and evolution of Trachylepis socotrana, we assembled a dataset for Mabuya sensu lato including 904 base pairs (bp) of sequence (392 bp from the 12S and 512 from the 16S rRNA mitochondrial genes) for 115 individuals, including specimens of T. socotrana from all four island populations, numerous representatives of the genus Trachylepis from the Middle East, Africa and Madagascar, plus some individuals from each of the other three genera of Mabuya sensu lato (Chioninia, Eutropis and Mabuya). The results of the phylogenetic analyses indicate that, contrary to what was previously thought, members of the genus Trachylepis have colonized the Socotra Archipelago in two independent events, with the first giving rise to the populations from Socotra, Samha and Darsa and the second to the Trachylepis from Abd Al Kuri Island. The phylogenetic analyses suggest that both Socotra and Abd Al Kuri may have been colonized from Southern Arabia instead of the currently closer African mainland. According to the calibrations, both colonization events occurred within the last fourteen million years, when the Socotra Archipelago had already drifted away from Arabia, thus ruling out vicariance.
Both morphological and genetic data show that the Trachylepis from Abd Al Kuri is a distinct taxon, which is herein described as a new species belonging to the T. brevicollis species-complex.
On the basis of this evidence, the terrestrial herpetofauna from Abd Al Kuri is composed exclusively of endemic species (one of which, the gecko Pristurus abdelkuri, was introduced into some parts of Socotra).


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Project DOI: 10.7934/P461, http://dx.doi.org/10.7934/P461
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    Members

    member name taxa specimens media
    Salvador Carranza
    Project Administrator
    Last logged in 07/05/12
    042510
    MorphoBank Curator
    Full membership
    Last logged in 07/07/12
    000
    Margarita Metallinou
    Full membership
    Last logged in 04/18/12
    333187
    Roberto Sindaco
    Full membership
    Last logged in 02/21/12
    000


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