The Science of Nature

, 105:49 | Cite as

Computational molecular species delimitation and taxonomic revision of the gecko genus Ebenavia Boettger, 1878

  • Oliver HawlitschekEmail author
  • Mark D. Scherz
  • Bernhard Ruthensteiner
  • Angelica Crottini
  • Frank Glaw
Original Paper


Cryptic species have been detected in many groups of organisms and must be assumed to make up a significant portion of global biodiversity. We study geckos of the Ebenavia inunguis complex from Madagascar and surrounding islands and use species delimitation algorithms (GMYC, BOLD, BPP), COI barcode divergence, diagnostic codon indels in the nuclear marker PRLR, diagnostic categorical morphological characters, and significant differences in continuous morphological characters for its taxonomic revision. BPP yielded ≥ 10 operational taxonomic units, whereas GMYC (≥ 27) and BOLD (26) suggested substantial oversplitting. In consequnce, we resurrect Ebenavia boettgeri Boulenger 1885 and describe Ebenavia tuelinae sp. nov., Ebenavia safari sp. nov., and Ebenavia robusta sp. nov., increasing the number of recognised species in Ebenavia from two to six. Further lineages of Ebenavia retrieved by BPP may warrant species or subspecies status, but further taxonomic conclusions are postponed until more data become available. Finally, we present an identification key to the genus Ebenavia, provide an updated distribution map, and discuss the diagnostic values of computational species delimitation as well as morphological and molecular diagnostic characters.


BOLD Operational Taxonomic Unit Madagascar clawless gecko Integrative taxonomy Taxonomic inflation Species complex 



We thank F. Andreone, J. Berger, H.-P. Berghof, M. Bletz, P. Bora, B. Brückmann, N. Cole, S. Faravelli, J. Forster, K. Freeman, P.-S. Gehring, George, K. Glaw, T. Glaw, D.J. Harris, S. Hyde Roberts, J. Köhler, H. Lava, K. Mebert, L. Montfort, J. Noel, M. Pabijan, S. Penny, I. Porton, D. Prötzel, M. Puente, L. Raharivololoniaina, E. Rajeriarison, T. Rajoafiarison, A. Rakotoarison, L. Randriamanana, M. Randriamialisoa, F. Randrianasolo, R.D. Randrianiaina, S. Rasamison, F.M. Ratsoavina, A. Razafimanantsoa, J. H. Razafindraibe, D. Rödder, G.M. Rosa, D. Salvi, E. Scanarini, V. Tatayah, M. Thomas, J.H. Velo, M. Vences, D.R. Vieites, and C.Y.H. Wang-Claypool, as well as the teams from the CNDRS and Dahari, Comoros, the DEAL and Naturalistes, Mayotte, and Frontier, Nosy Be, Madagascar, for contributing specimens, pictures and observational data, and support in the field. Furthermore, we thank C.J. McCarthy and P. Campbell (BMNH, London), G. Köhler and L. Mogk (SMF, Frankfurt), W. Böhme (ZFMK, Bonn), and D. Langer (ZMB, Berlin) for granting us access to their collections and M. Franzen (ZSM, Munich) and F. Tillack (ZMB, Berlin) for general collection-based support. Authorities at Antananarivo (Madagascar), Zanzibar (Tanzania, for Pemba), Mamoudzou (Mayotte, France), Moroni (Comoros), and Port Louis (Mauritius) are acknowledged for issuing collection and export permits. Finally, we thank M. Balke, Munich, and K. Tamar, Barcelona, for providing computational and lab infrastructure, A.W. Lam for the technical support in the lab, M. Spies for nomenclatural advice, and three anonymous referees for providing very thorough and competent reviews of the manuscript of this paper.

Funding information

The research was financially supported by the Volkswagen Foundation, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (projects 0925157 and 11253064) to FG and OH, by DAAD grant D/09/49634 to OH, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (GL 314/1) to FG, DFG (BA2152/7-1) to M. Balke, and DFG (HA 7255/2-1) to OH, by the Portuguese National Funds through FCT–Foundation for Science and Technology under the IF/00209/2014/CP1256/CT0011 Exploratory Research Project, the Investigador FCT (IF) grant (IF/00209/2014) and by the Saint Louis Zoo’s Field Research for Conservation programme (FRC# 12-12) of the Wildcare Institute and Gondwana Conservation and Research to AC. The ‘Freunde der Zoologischen Staatssammlung München’, the Society of the University of Munich, and EES funding programme of the University of Munich provided additional financial support.

Supplementary material

114_2018_1574_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (58 kb)
ESM 1 : Morphological counts and measurements of all specimens examined, including the ANOVA results. (XLSX 58 kb)
114_2018_1574_MOESM2_ESM.png (9.4 mb)
ESM 2 : Micro-CT scans of the skulls of Ebenavia inunguis, E. boettgeri, E. tuelinae sp. nov., E. safari sp. nov., and E. robusta sp. nov. in dorsal and lateral view. Length of scale bars = 1 mm. (PNG 9619 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zoologische Staatssammlung München (ZSM-SNSB)MunichGermany
  2. 2.Division of Evolutionary Biology, Zoological InstituteBraunschweig University of TechnologyBraunschweigGermany
  3. 3.CIBIO, Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIOUniversidade do PortoVairãoPortugal

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