German Journal of Herpetology

Allen, K. E., W. P. Tapondjou N., E. Greenbaum, L. J. Welton & A. M. Bauer

In Issues 2019

High levels of hidden phylogenetic structure within Central and West African Trachylepis skinks. pp. 231-241 plus Supplementary data.

Abstract. The genus Trachylepis is widespread throughout most of continental Africa and its surrounding islands. However, the majority of phylogenetic studies on this genus have focused on species occurring in eastern and southern Africa. Herein, we examine relationships among ten Trachylepis taxa that occur in Central and West Africa: T. affinis, T. albilabris, T. aureogularis, T. gonwouoi, T. maculilabris, T. mekuana, T. perrotetii, T. polytropis polytropis, T. polytropis paucisquamis, and T. quinquetaeniata. Five genes (two mitochondrial and three nuclear) were sequenced for 153 individuals, revealing much higher levels of diversity than previously realized, and justifying the need for future taxonomic investigations. Because of high levels of morphological conservatism in Trachylepis, the taxonomy of each of these species is complex, and previously synonymized names may be available for several lineages. Molecular dating techniques suggest that while the two major clades of Trachylepis represented in this study diverged approximately 23 million years ago, the majority of diversification took place in the last 17 million years. Further work is needed to fill in sampling gaps and increase genetic coverage for some clades before the full genetic diversity of this group can be realized.

Key words. Squamata, Scincidae, phylogeography, taxonomy, species complex, Cameroon Volcanic Line, Albertine Rift, Kwahu Plateau, Pleistocene refugia, Miocene aridification.

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