News from IBE (CSIC-UPF)
A new study has revealed that the lizards, which were thought to belong to a single species, should be reclassified as three. One of this trio is thought to be restricted to a small section of the Hajar Mountains, in the north-east of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), making it the only known vertebrate species found solely in the country. However, with areas on the UAE’s east coast around the mountains being developed rapidly, the gecko’s long-term survival in the wild could face challenges.
The new study, published in the scientific journal PeerJ, was led by Salvador Carranza, from the IBE and Johannes Els from the BCEAW. The scientists looked at the morphology of geckos from the Hajar Mountains of the UAE and Oman that are classified as belonging to the Asaccus caudivolvulus species. They also used cutting-edge techniques to look at variation in sections of genetic material.
A complex computer analysis of the data led the scientists to conclude that A caudivolvulus is made up of creatures from three species. Factors such as the degree of genetic difference between the species led to the conclusion that they began diverging from one another in the Miocene geological epoch, which ended more than 5 million years ago.
Carranza, S.; Simó-Riudalbas, M.; Jayasinghe, S.M.; Wilms, T.; Els, J. (2016). Microendemicity in the northern Hajar Mountains of Oman and the United Arab Emirates with the description of two new species of geckos of the genus Asaccus (Squamata: Phyllodactylidae). Peer J