Tertiary climate change and the diversification of the Amazonian gecko genus Gonatodes (Sphaerodactylidae, Squamata)

Tony Gamble, Andrew M. Simons, Guarino R. Colli, Laurie J. Vitt

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65 Scopus citations


The genus Gonatodes is a monophyletic group of small-bodied, diurnal geckos distributed across northern South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. We used fragments of three nuclear genes (RAG2, ACM4, and c-mos) and one mitochondrial gene (16S) to estimate phylogenetic relationships among Amazonian species of Gonatodes. We used Penalized Likelihood to estimate timing of diversification in the genus. Most cladogenesis occurred in the Oligocene and early Miocene and coincided with a burst of diversification in other South American animal groups including mollusks, birds, and mammals. The Oligocene and early Miocene were periods dominated by dramatic climate change and Andean orogeny and we suggest that these factors drove the burst of cladogenesis in Gonatodes geckos as well as other taxa. A common pattern in Amazonian taxa is a biogeographic split between the eastern and western Amazon basin. We observed two clades with this spatial distribution, although large differences in timing of divergence between the east-west taxon pairs indicate that these divergences were not the result of a common vicariant event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Amazon
  • Partitioned Bayesian analysis
  • Penalized Likelihood
  • South America
  • Sphaerodactylidae


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