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Keywords:

  • evolution;
  • geographical variation;
  • island;
  • lizard;
  • phylogeography;
  • volcanism

Abstract

Recent studies of island lizards have suggested that historical vicariance as a result of volcanism may have played an important role in shaping patterns of within-island genetic diversity. The skink, Chalcides viridanus, shows variation in morphology within the volcanic island of Tenerife. Two mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) fragments (from the 12S and 16S rRNA regions) were sequenced in individuals from 17 sites to evaluate the relationship between current phylogeography and the geological history of the island. Three main clades were detected. The two most basal clades were restricted to areas representing the ancient precursor islands of Teno and Anaga in the northwest and northeast of Tenerife, respectively. The third clade showed a widespread geographical distribution and provided evidence of a recent rapid expansion after a bottleneck. Within-island cladogenesis appears to have taken place during a recent period of volcanic activity and long after the ancient islands had been united by the eruptions that led to the formation of the Cañadas edifice. Evidence of similar biogeographical histories are found in other species in the Canary archipelago, supporting the volcanism scenario as a potentially widespread cause of within-island differentiation in reptiles.