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Type: Article
Published: 2019-06-18
Page range: 139–154
Abstract views: 149
PDF downloaded: 5

Phylogenetic structure of Holbrookia lacerata (Cope 1880) (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae): one species or two?

Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collection, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2258 Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collection, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2258
Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collection, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2258
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, College Station TX 77843-2120
Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
Natural Resources Institute, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843
Texas Tech University, Department of Natural Resources Management, 2500 Broadway, Lubbock,Texas 79409
The Nature Conservancy, San Antonio, TX 78215,
Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78758,USA
Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78758,USA
Biodiversity Collections, Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78758-4445 Benjamin J. Labay currently at Siglo Group, Austin, TX 78702
Biodiversity Collections, Department of Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78758-4445
Reptilia Holbrookia lacerata Holbrookia subcaudalis Texas Balcones Escarpment ND2 RAG-1 morphology environmental niche


Species delimitation attempts to match species-level taxonomy with actual evolutionary lineages. Such taxonomic conclusions are typically, but not always, based on patterns of congruence across multiple data sources and methods of analyses. Here, we use this pluralistic approach to species delimitation to help resolve uncertainty in species boundaries of phrynosomatid sand lizards of the genus Holbrookia. Specifically, the Spot-tailed Earless Lizard (H. lacerata) was historically divided into a northern (H. l. lacerata) and southern (H. l. subcaudalis) subspecies based on differences in morphology and allopatry, but no research has been conducted evaluating genetic differences between these taxa. In this study, patterns in sequence data derived from two genes, one nuclear and one mitochondrial, for 66 individuals sampled across 18 counties in Texas revealed three strongly supported, reciprocally monophyletic lineages, each comprised of individuals from a single geographic region. Distinct genetic variation evident across two of these regions corresponds with differences in morphology, differences in environmental niche, and lines up with the presumed geographic barrier, the Balcones Escarpment, which is the historical subspecies boundary. The combined evidence from genetics, morphology and environmental niche is sufficient to consider these subspecies as distinct species with the lizards north of the Balcones Escarpment retaining the name Holbrookia lacerata, and those south of the Balcones Escarpment being designated as Holbrookia subcaudalis.



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