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Keywords:

  • biogeography;
  • dispersal;
  • Gekkota;
  • phylogeny;
  • South America;
  • Squamata;
  • vicariance

Abstract

Geckos in the Western Hemisphere provide an excellent model to study faunal assembly at a continental scale. We generated a time-calibrated phylogeny, including exemplars of all New World gecko genera, to produce a biogeographical scenario for the New World geckos. Patterns of New World gecko origins are consistent with almost every biogeographical scenario utilized by a terrestrial vertebrate with different New World lineages showing evidence of vicariance, dispersal via temporary land bridge, overseas dispersal or anthropogenic introductions. We also recovered a strong relationship between clade age and species diversity, with older New World lineages having more species than more recently arrived lineages. Our data provide the first phylogenetic hypothesis for all New World geckos and highlight the intricate origins and ongoing organization of continental faunas. The phylogenetic and biogeographical hypotheses presented here provide an historical framework to further pursue research on the diversification and assembly of the New World herpetofauna.