IBE (CSIC-UPF): The hidden biodiversity of reptiles

IBE (CSIC-UPF): The hidden biodiversity of reptiles

News from IBE (CSIC-UPF)

Scientists at the IBE published a study in the Journal of Biogeography explaining that as many as 14 species of geckos living in the mountains of Oman have been erroneously classified as one subspecies for years. This study analyses cryptic diversity in the Hajar Mountains in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula. This mountain range is one of the richest regions in biodiversity of the area, with numerous endemic plants and animals among which stand out more than 18 species of reptiles.

One of the most abundant reptiles of the Hajar is the gecko Pristurus rupestris rupestris, a small diurnal reptile that regulates its temperature with the Sun and that communicates producing complex movements with the tail. Being an animal so common in the area has never worried its state of conservation. However, new genetic data suggest that it actually represents a complex of cryptic species.

Thanks to this study, up to 14 species have been identified within what has been considered the subspecies P. r. Rupestris. "The fact that these species retain a very similar morphology is due to the fact that they share a similar habitat under extreme conditions and to which they are well adapted," says Marc Simó-Riudalbas, second author of the paper.

More information:
IBE website

Reference Article:
Garcia-Porta, J.; Simó-Riudalbas, M.; Robinson, M.; and Carranza, S. 2017. Diversification in arid mountains: biogeography and cryptic diversity of Pristurus rupestris rupestris in Arabia. Journal of Biogeography [ePub ahead of Print]