Lizards as model organisms for linking phylogeographic and speciation studies


Arley Camargo, Fax: +1 801 422 0090; E-mail:


Lizards have been model organisms for ecological and evolutionary studies from individual to community levels at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Here we highlight lizards as models for phylogeographic studies, review the published population genetics/phylogeography literature to summarize general patterns and trends and describe some studies that have contributed to conceptual advances. Our review includes 426 references and 452 case studies: this literature reflects a general trend of exponential growth associated with the theoretical and empirical expansions of the discipline. We describe recent lizard studies that have contributed to advances in understanding of several aspects of phylogeography, emphasize some linkages between phylogeography and speciation and suggest ways to expand phylogeographic studies to test alternative pattern-based modes of speciation. Allopatric speciation patterns can be tested by phylogeographic approaches if these are designed to discriminate among four alternatives based on the role of selection in driving divergence between populations, including: (i) passive divergence by genetic drift; (ii) adaptive divergence by natural selection (niche conservatism or ecological speciation); and (iii) socially-mediated speciation. Here we propose an expanded approach to compare patterns of variation in phylogeographic data sets that, when coupled with morphological and environmental data, can be used to to discriminate among these alternative speciation patterns.

[Correction made after online publication (28/07/2010): (minor deletion in the last line of the abstract)].