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Biogeographic and diversification patterns of squamate reptiles across North Africa and Arabia

AuthorsTejero-Cicuéndez, Héctor; Harmon, Luke; Carranza, Salvador
Issue Date2019
CitationXXXVIII Annual Meeting of the Willi Hennig Society (2019)
AbstractDesert areas comprise an important part of the world¿s land surface. In spite of their harsh conditions, deserts can harbor a high diversity of fauna and flora. This offers the opportunity of investigating how the geographic and climatic history of these areas have affected the evolutionary history of their biodiversity. In this study, we focus on some of the largest arid regions of the world, the north of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, to study large-scale biogeographic and diversification patterns of squamate reptiles, one of the most successful groups inhabiting the deserts. Evolutionary history has been explored and discussed independently for several groups of reptiles from north Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but a study integrating a large number of groups is still lacking. Here, we assemble a comprehensive dataset including most of the squamate genera present both in Africa and Arabia with the objective of investigating large-scale biogeographic and diversification patterns in a comparative framework. We reconstruct phylogenetic relationships among 550 species with 5 mitochondrial and 6 nuclear loci, and estimate divergence times with eleven calibration points, including fossils and biogeographic events. With this broad dataset, we are able to reconstruct and compare the evolutionary history of 22 genera of squamate reptiles across north Africa and Arabia. By applying statistical biogeographic models, we can associate diversification dynamics with paleogeographic events affecting these regions. As a result, we can describe the effect of the Afro-Arabian geologic and climatic history on the diversity and evolution of desert-dwelling squamates.
DescriptionPresentation given at the XXXVIII Annual Meeting of the Willi Hennig Society on May 26th-31st, 2019, in University of California at Berkeley.
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