• Open Access

Out of Florida: mtDNA reveals patterns of migration and Pleistocene range expansion of the Green Anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis)


  • The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), provided financial support to R. M. G. during specimen collection (also the Biology Division Science Alliance Award and UTK Yates Dissertation Fellowship). J. J. K. received a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to support this work.


Jason J. Kolbe, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 120 Flagg Road. Kingston, RI 02881. Tel: +401-874-9731; Fax: +401-874-2065; E-mail: jjkolbe@mail.uri.edu


Anolis carolinensis is an emerging model species and the sole member of its genus native to the United States. Considerable morphological and physiological variation has been described in the species, and the recent sequencing of its genome makes it an attractive system for studies of genome variation. To inform future studies of molecular and phenotypic variation within A. carolinensis, a rigorous account of intraspecific population structure and relatedness is needed. Here, we present the most extensive phylogeographic study of this species to date. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequence data support the previous hypothesis of a western Cuban origin of the species. We found five well-supported, geographically distinct mitochondrial haplotype clades throughout the southeastern United States. Most Florida populations fall into one of three divergent clades, whereas the vast majority of populations outside Florida belong to a single, shallowly diverged clade. Genetic boundaries do not correspond to major rivers, but may reflect effects of Pleistocene glaciation events and the Appalachian Mountains on migration and expansion of the species. Phylogeographic signal should be examined using nuclear loci to complement these findings.