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Type: Article
Published: 2016-12-14
Page range: 61–76
Abstract views: 158
PDF downloaded: 100

A new biogeographically disjunct giant gecko (Gehyra: Gekkonidae: Reptilia) from the East Melanesian Islands 

Division of Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, and Centre for Biodiversity Analysis, The Australian National University, Building 116, Daley Road, Acton, ACT, 0200, Australia
Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology (ATECO), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Vautierstraat 29, 1000 Brussels, Belgium Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO) vzw, Walmersumstraat 44, 3380 Glabbeek, Belgium
U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, San Diego Field Station, 4165 Spruance Road Suite 200, San Diego, California 92101-0812, USA
South Australian Museum, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia
Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology (ATECO), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Vautierstraat 29, 1000 Brussels, Belgium Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO) vzw, Walmersumstraat 44, 3380 Glabbeek, Belgium
Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecology (ATECO), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), Vautierstraat 29, 1000 Brussels, Belgium Biodiversity Inventory for Conservation (BINCO) vzw, Walmersumstraat 44, 3380 Glabbeek, Belgium
Reptilia Admiralty Islands endemism Fiji Manus Miocene Mussau molelcular dating overwater dispersal Vanuatu


The East Melanesian Islands have been a focal area for research into island biogeography and community ecology. However, previously undescribed and biogeographically significant new species endemic to this region continue to be discovered. Here we describe a phylogenetically distinct (~20% divergence at the mitochondrial ND2 gene) and biogeographically disjunct new species of gecko in the genus Gehyra, from the Admiralty and St Matthias Islands. Gehyra rohan sp. nov. can be distinguished from all congeners by the combination of its very large size, ring of bright orange scales around the eye, moderate degree of lateral folding on the limbs and body, and aspects of head, body and tail scalation. Molecular data indicate mid to late Miocene divergence of the new species from nearest relatives occurring nearly 2000 kilometres away in Vanuatu and Fiji. Large Gehyra have not been recorded on the intervening large islands of the Bismark Archipelago (New Britain and New Ireland) and the Solomon Islands, suggesting this dispersal pre-dated the current configuration of these islands, extinction in intervening regions, or potentially elements of both. Conversely, low genetic divergence between disjunct samples on Manus and Mussau implies recent overseas dispersal via either natural or anthropogenic means.



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