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Molecular phylogenetics and taxonomic reassessment of the widespread agamid lizard Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802) (Squamata, Agamidae) across South Asia

Gowande, G and Pal, S and Jablonski, D and Masroor, R and Phansalkar, PU and Dsouza, P and Jayarajan, A and Shanker, K (2021) Molecular phylogenetics and taxonomic reassessment of the widespread agamid lizard Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802) (Squamata, Agamidae) across South Asia. In: Vertebrate Zoology, 71 . pp. 669-696.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3897/vz.71.e62787


The genus Calotes Cuvier, 1817 (Agamidae: Draconinae) is highly diverse, with species occurring in South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Most species of the subfamily except C. versicolor have narrow geographic distributions. Calotes versicolor is distributed from western Iran in the west to south China and Indonesia in the east and has been introduced to parts of Africa and North America. The species has had a complicated taxonomic history; multiple species and subspecies related to C. versicolor were described from India and adjoining regions, which were synonymized in subsequent revisions. However, a study of Burmese C. versicolor yielded two new species, C. htunwini and C. irawadi, indicating that C. versicolor is a species complex. Such integrative taxonomic studies have not been carried out in India, the supposed type locality of C. versicolor. Hence, we studied C. versicolor sensu lato from the Indian subcontinent and generated sequences of mitochondrial 16S and COI fragments from tissues sampled from multiple localities in the region, including the type localities of its synonyms. Phylogenetic analyses revealed four well-supported, deeply-divergent lineages, supported by morphological data. These lineages represent (i) C. versicolor sensu stricto, from South India and parts of the east coast, (ii) C. irawadi sensu lato from northeast India and Southeast Asia, (iii) a synonym from the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains which we resurrect here, and (iv) a subspecies from Pakistan which we elevate to species level. We provide re-descriptions for the resurrected or elevated species, and a diagnostic key to the species of the C. versicolor complex. The study shows that C. versicolor sensu stricto is endemic to parts of southern and eastern India, and not widely distributed, though it may have been introduced to other parts of the world.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Vertebrate Zoology
Publisher: Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the author.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2023 03:07
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2023 03:07
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/82778

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