Into the light: Diurnality has evolved multiple times in geckos

Tony Gamble, Eli Greenbaum, Todd R. Jackman, Aaron M. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Geckos are the only major lizard group consisting mostly of nocturnal species. Nocturnality is presumed to have evolved early in gecko evolution and geckos possess numerous adaptations to functioning in low light and at low temperatures. However, not all gecko species are nocturnal and most diurnal geckos have their own distinct adaptations to living in warmer, sunlit environments. We reconstructed the evolution of gecko activity patterns using a newly generated time-calibrated phylogeny. Our results provide the first phylogenetic analysis of temporal activity patterns in geckos and confirm an ancient origin of nocturnality at the root of the gecko tree. We identify multiple transitions to diurnality at a variety of evolutionary time scales and transitions back to nocturnality occur in several predominantly diurnal clades. The scenario presented here will be useful in reinterpreting existing hypotheses of how geckos have adapted to varying thermal and light environments. These results can also inform future research of gecko ecology, physiology, morphology and vision as it relates to changes in temporal activity patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2015


  • Diurnal
  • Ecology
  • Gekkota
  • Lizard
  • Nocturnal
  • Phylogeny
  • Reptile


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