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Conservation genetics of the endangered grassland earless dragon Tympanocryptis pinguicolla (Reptilia: Agamidae) in Southeastern Australia


The grassland earless dragon, Tympanocryptis pinguicolla, islisted as endangered throughout its range. A recent taxonomic studybased on both morphological and allozyme data elevatedpinguicolla from a subspecies of T. lineata to fullspecies status, but the allozyme data showed considerabledifferentiation among pinguicolla populations. To investigatethe magnitude and nature of these differences with an independent dataset, we targeted key pinguicolla populations and sequenced anapproximately 900 base pair DNA fragment of the mitochondrial genomethat includes half of the ND4 gene and three tRNA genes. We obtainedsequence data from 21 individuals drawn from the three T.pinguicolla populations, included representatives of two otherTympanocryptis species and used an Amphibolurusspecies as an outgroup. Seven mitochondrial haplotypes were found amongthe 21 T. pinguicolla samples – two in the AustralianCapital Territory (ACT) and five in the Cooma region, Phylogeneticsignal in the data sets was extremely strong and a variety ofphylogenetic analyses of the data all resulted in the same single fullyresolved tree. There are 37 unique differences in the ND4 gene betweenthe ACT and Cooma populations. This translates into genetic differencesof between 5.76% and 6.23% between the two populations. Incomparison to studies on other reptile groups in which the same fragmentof DNA was used, the differences found between the ACT and Coomapopulations are more in line with species-level differences thandifferences within a single species and suggests that these populationsshould be considered separate taxonomic units.

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Correspondence to J. Scott Keogh.

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Scott, I.A.W., Keogh, J.S. Conservation genetics of the endangered grassland earless dragon Tympanocryptis pinguicolla (Reptilia: Agamidae) in Southeastern Australia. Conservation Genetics 1, 357–363 (2000).

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  • Agamid
  • lizard
  • ND4
  • Population
  • Tympanocryptis pinguicolla