n African Zoology - The phylogenetic affinities of and the intraspecific evolution of coastal melanism in the western rock skink

Volume 45, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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The phylogenetic affinities of the melanistic subspecies have never been investigated, and it was unclear if this subspecies represented a locally adapted population or a distinct species. Sequences from the nuclear marker (1149 bp), two novel rapidly-evolving nuclear markers and (554 bp and 941 bp respectively), and the mitochondrial gene (1056 bp) were analysed from 84 individuals of and two individuals of . Additionally, the range of was estimated using museum records, and correlations between environmental variables and the occurrence of melanism were explored. Molecular analyses depict as nested within a strongly monophyletic , suggesting this population is not genetically isolated or distinct. We therefore recommend be synonymized with . The best predictor of melanism along the coastline in this population is a high number of fog days per year, a finding consistent with studies of melanism in cordylid lizards in southern Africa. Further sampling may determine gene flow levels occurring across the contact zone of melanistic and non-melanistic phenotypes and provide insight into selective forces maintaining this trait.

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