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Systematics of a small Gehyra (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from the Einasleigh Uplands, Queensland: description of a new range restricted species



The tropical savannah landscapes of Australia’s north, though previously overshadowed by the biodiverse rainforests of the Wet Tropics, are themselves now attracting interest for their biological significance and uniqueness. The Einasleigh Uplands region of north-east Queensland is home to a diverse group of mammals and reptiles and was previously recognised for its importance in shaping speciation in birds. Here we add a small saxicoline gecko to a growing list of recently described reptiles that are endemic to this region. Phylogenetic analyses including Gehyra species from the arid zone and the monsoonal tropics reveal that small Gehyra geckos in this area, while closely resembling Gehyra nana from the Top End and Kimberley, form a clade that is geographically isolated and phylogenetically distant from the G. nana complex. Instead, the Einasleigh Uplands taxon is sister to a large, arboreal species within the arid zone clade. It is readily distinguished from all lineages within the G. nana complex, its closest relative G. purpurascens, and all other rock-dwelling species from the arid zone by a combination of its very small body size, few subdigital lamellae, and mid tan to golden dorsal coloration with a pattern of scattered pale ocelli and irregular dark-brown blotches on a stippled background. We therefore describe this taxon as a new Australian species of Gehyra, Gehyra einasleighensis sp. nov., based on a combination of phylogenetic separation, morphological characters and discrete geographic distribution.



Reptilia, Einasleigh Uplands, Gekkonidae, tropical savannah

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