Phylogeny and biogeography of Philippine bent-toed geckos (Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus) contradicts a prevailing model of Pleistocene diversification

Siler, C. D., J. R. Oaks, J. A. Esselstyn, A. C. Diesmos & R. M. Brown. 2010
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

In the Philippines, Pleistocene sea level oscillations repeatedly connected and isolated neighboring islands. Hence, an understanding of the island platforms adjoined during periods of low sea level has led biologists to a suite of expectations that, taken together, represent a paradigm for the process of recent diversification in southeast Asia. We employ statistical tests of phylogenetic topology and population genetic analyses of widespread species of bent-toed geckos (Cyrtodactylus) to ascertain whether patterns of inter- and intra-specific diversity can be explained by a Pleistocene aggregate island model of diversification. Contrary to many classic studies of Philippine vertebrates, we find complex patterns that are only partially explained by past island connectivity. In particular, we determine that some populations inhabiting previously united island groups show substantial genetic divergence and are inferred to be polyphyletic. Additionally, greater genetic diversity is found within islands, than between them. Among the topological patterns inconsistent with the Pleistocene model, we note some similarities with other lineages, but no obviously shared causal mechanisms are apparent. Finally, we infer well-supported discordance between the gene trees inferred from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences of two species, which we suspect is the result of incomplete lineage sorting. This study contributes to a nascent body of literature suggesting that the current paradigm for Philippine biogeography is an oversimplification requiring revision.