Morphology and molecules reveal two new species of the poorly studied gecko genus Paragehyra (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Madagascar
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We provide new morphological and genetic data on a poorly studied genus of geckos from Madagascar (Paragehyra) previously thought to be distributed only in the south-east and south-west of the island and discuss the biogeography and evolution of this genus. Two species (Paragehyra petiti and Paragehyra gabriellae) were formerly included in this genus, whose phylogenetic and biogeographical relationships remain unresolved. This morphological and molecular study enables the recognition of two new rock-dwelling species that are here formally described. Paragehyra felicitae sp. nov. has only been observed in the private Anja reserve and nearby areas (close to Ambalavao) on the southern central high plateau of Madagascar, whereas Paragehyra austini sp. nov. is known from only one locality on the western slopes of the Andohahela massif, around 60 km northwest of Tolagnaro. The four species differ from one another by a combination of several morphological characters, genetic divergence >5.2 % in a mitochondrial 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene fragment and nucleotide differences in analysed nuclear genes, as highlighted in the resulting phylogenetic reconstruction and haplotype network analysis. A further, hitherto unstudied Paragehyra population is known from the Tsingy de Bemaraha in central-western Madagascar. Preliminary information of its morphological differentiation are here provided and suggest that this undescribed species is closely related to P. petiti and P. felicitae sp. nov.
KeywordsParagehyra felicitae sp. nov. Paragehyra austini sp. nov. Systematics Phylogenetics Taxonomy Rock-dwelling geckos
We are grateful to the community managing the Anja reserve for the permit to collect a limited number of reptiles thereby allowing the discovery of a remarkable local endemism of reptiles at this site. For help in the field, we are indebted to our Malagasy assistant Emile Rajeriarison and to our colleagues Iker A. Irisarri, Solohery Rasamison, Fanomezana Ratsoavina and Alexandra Lima as well as to many local porters and guides who accompanied us in the field. The work was carried out in collaboration with the Département de Biologie Animale, Université d’Antananarivo (UADBA). We are grateful to the Malagasy authorities, in particular the Ministère de l’Environnement et des Forêts, for issuing research and export permits (Nos. 195/09/MEF/SG/DGEF/DSAP/SLRSE, 292 MINENVEF/SG/DGEF/DPB/SCBLF/RECH, 128/06/MINENV.EF/SG/DGEF/DPB/SCBLF/RECH and 314/10/MEF/SG/DGF/DCB.SAP/SCB, 052N_EA02/MG05, 055N-EA03/MG10 and 007N_EA01/MG11). Fieldwork was partially funded by the Portuguese “Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia” (FCT) (PTDC/BIA-BDE/65745/2006). The work of AC was supported by postdoctoral grants from the Portuguese “Fundacao para a Ciencia e a Tecnologia” (FCT) (SFRH/BPD/72908/2010 and SFRH/BPD/96982/2013) under the Programa Operacional Potencial Humano–Quadro de Referência Estratégico Nacional funds from the European Social Fund and Portuguese Ministério da Educação e Ciência. DJH and AC are funded by the project “Genomics and Evolutionary Biology” co-financed by North Portugal Regional Operational Programme 2007/2013 (ON.2–O Novo Norte), under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The work of AM was supported by a postdoctoral research fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Fieldwork of FG and MV was supported by the Volkswagen Foundation, and MV was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (grant VE247/3-1). AMB was supported by the National Science Foundation (USA) (grants DEB 0844523 and DEB 1019443), and RKBJ and JCR were funded by the Darwin Initiative.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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