The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.
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Authors: Akbar Fattahi, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani, Eskandar Rastegar-Pouyani, Rasoul Karamiani, Seyyed Saeed Hosseinian Yousefkhani & Behzad Fathinia
Abstract: The Iranian species of the phyllodactylid geckos of the genus Asaccus are found only in the valleys of the Zagros Mountains, a region which represents an important area of endemism in western Iran. Recently, many relict species have been described from the central and southern parts of the Zagros Mountains, which were previously known as A. elisae. The recent descriptions of species within this complex suggest that diversity within the genus may be higher than expected and that its taxonomy and systematics should be revised. In the present study, phylogenetic relationships within the genus Asaccus were evaluated using two mitochondrial and one nuclear gene. Genetically, the genus shows high levels of variability. The molecular phylogeny of the genus suggests the presence of three main clades along the Zagros Mountains with the southern population (from the Hormozgan province) and one clade (A. sp8 and A. sp9) being sister taxon to A. montanus from UAE. The remaining samples are separated into two reciprocally monophyletic groups: the northern (Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Ilam provinces) and the central (Lorestan, Khuzestan, Kohgilouye-Bouyer Ahmad and Fars provinces) Zagros groups. The results of the present study suggest that populations attributed to A. elisae in Iran correspond to distinct lineages with high genetic distances. In brief, our results suggest that the genus needs a major taxonomical revision. The Arabian origin of the genus has not been confirmed, because two populations from Zagros were located within the A. montanus, A. gallagheri and A. platyrhynchus clade. Further morphological analyses are needed to systematically define each genetic lineage as a new taxon.
Keywords: Asaccus, genetic variability, Iran, Phyllodactylidae, species diversity, Zagros Mountains