n African Journal of Herpetology - A reconsideration of the systematic status of Haacke 1965 : original article

Volume 50, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2156-4574
  • E-ISSN: 2153-3660
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We re-evaluated the taxonomic status of <I>Rhoptropus bradfieldi diporus</I>, an endemic Namibian gecko. Preanal pores, the character originally used to diagnose the taxon, are variably present, but <I>R. b. diporus&lt;/I&gt; is reliably differentiated from <I>R. b. bradfieldi&lt;/I&gt; by smaller, more rounded scalation of the thigh and precloacal regions. The two forms are also distinguished by relatively high levels of sequence divergence (9.7-11.6%) observed for the mitochondrial cytochrome &lt;I&gt;b&lt;/I&gt; gene. On the basis of these distinct morphological and molecular characteristics, we regard <I>R. diporus&lt;/I&gt; as a valid species restricted to the Brandberg and areas north of the Ugab River. The significance of consistent colour differences between <I>R. diporus&lt;/I&gt; and <I>R. bradfieldi&lt;/I&gt; remains unclear, but the melanism prevalent in the latter species may be an adaptation to the cool coastal Namib fog belt. Morphological variation in <I>R. bradfieldi&lt;/I&gt; is also evident in the southern portion of its range, where inland and coastal populations are notably distinct. The precise geographic patterns of this variation (and its possible evolutionary significance) warrant further investigation.

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