Molecular dating and diversification of the South American lizard genus Liolaemus (subgenus Eulaemus) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences




The temperate South American lizard genus Liolaemus is the one of the most widely distributed and species-rich genera of lizards on earth. The genus is divided into two subgenera, Liolaemus sensu stricto (the ‘Chilean group’) and Eulaemus (the ‘Argentino group’), a division that is supported by recent molecular and morphological data. Owing to a lack of reliable fossil data, previous studies have been forced to use either global molecular clocks, a standardized mutation rate adopted from previous studies, or the use of geological events as calibration points. However, simulations indicate that these types of assumptions may result in less accurate estimates of divergence times when clock-like models or mutation rates are violated. We used a multilocus data set combined with a newly described fossil to provide the first calibrated phylogeny for the crown groups of the clade Eulaemus, and derive new fossil-calibrated substitution rates (with error) of both nuclear and mtDNA gene regions for Eulaemus specifically. Divergence date estimates for each of the crown groups and appropriate rate estimates will provide the foundation for understanding rates of speciation, historical biogeography, and phylogeographical history for various clades in one of the most diverse lizard genera in the poorly studied Patagonian region.

© 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 164, 825–835.