Logo of procbhomepageaboutsubmitalertseditorial board
Proc Biol Sci. 2000 Apr 7; 267(1444): 637–649.
PMCID: PMC1690580

Long-distance colonization and radiation in gekkonid lizards, Tarentola (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), revealed by mitochondrial DNA sequences.


Morphological systematics makes it clear that many non-volant animal groups have undergone extensive transmarine dispersal with subsequent radiation in new, often island, areas. However, details of such events are often lacking. Here we use partial DNA sequences derived from the mitochondrial cytochrome b and 12S rRNA genes (up to 684 and 320 bp, respectively) to trace migration and speciation in Tarentola geckos, a primarily North African clade which has invaded many of the warmer islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. There were four main invasions of archipelagos presumably by rafting. (i) The subgenus Neotarentola reached Cuba up to 23 million years (Myr) ago, apparently via the North Equatorial current, a journey of at least 6000 km. (ii) The subgenus Tarentola invaded the eastern Canary Islands relatively recently covering a minimum of 120 km. (iii) The subgenus Makariogecko got to Gran Canaria and the western Canary Islands 7-17.5 Myr ago, either directly from the mainland or via the Selvages or the archipelago of Madeira, an excursion of 200-1200 km. (iv) A single species of Makariogecko from Gomera or Tenerife in the western Canaries made the 1400 km journey to the Cape Verde Islands tip to 7 Myr ago by way of the south-running Canary current. Many journeys have also occurred within archipelagos, a minimum of five taking place in the Canaries and perhaps 16 in the Cape Verde Islands. Occupation of the Cape Verde archipelago first involved an island in the northern group, perhaps São Nicolau, with subsequent spread to its close neighbours. The eastern and southern islands were colonized from these northern islands, at least two invasions widely separated in time being involved. While there are just three allopatric species of Makariogecko in the Canaries, the single invader of the Cape Verde Islands radiated into five, most of the islands being inhabited by two of these which differ in size. While size difference may possibly be a product of character displacement in the northern islands, taxa of different sizes reached the southern islands independently.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (403K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Boyle JS, Lew AM. An inexpensive alternative to glassmilk for DNA purification. Trends Genet. 1995 Jan;11(1):8–8. [PubMed]
  • Cunningham CW. Is congruence between data partitions a reliable predictor of phylogenetic accuracy? Empirically testing an iterative procedure for choosing among phylogenetic methods. Syst Biol. 1997 Sep;46(3):464–478. [PubMed]
  • Harris DJ, Arnold EN, Thomas RH. Rapid speciation, morphological evolution, and adaptation to extreme environments in South African sand lizards (Meroles) as revealed by mitochondrial gene sequences. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1998 Aug;10(1):37–48. [PubMed]
  • Hasegawa M, Kishino H, Yano T. Dating of the human-ape splitting by a molecular clock of mitochondrial DNA. J Mol Evol. 1985;22(2):160–174. [PubMed]
  • Hickson RE, Simon C, Cooper A, Spicer GS, Sullivan J, Penny D. Conserved sequence motifs, alignment, and secondary structure for the third domain of animal 12S rRNA. Mol Biol Evol. 1996 Jan;13(1):150–169. [PubMed]
  • Juan C, Oromi P, Hewitt GM. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny and sequential colonization of Canary Islands by darkling beetles of the genus Pimelia (Tenebrionidae). Proc Biol Sci. 1995 Aug 22;261(1361):173–180. [PubMed]
  • Kocher TD, Thomas WK, Meyer A, Edwards SV, Päbo S, Villablanca FX, Wilson AC. Dynamics of mitochondrial DNA evolution in animals: amplification and sequencing with conserved primers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Aug;86(16):6196–6200. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Saitou N, Nei M. The neighbor-joining method: a new method for reconstructing phylogenetic trees. Mol Biol Evol. 1987 Jul;4(4):406–425. [PubMed]
  • Smith SW, Overbeek R, Woese CR, Gilbert W, Gillevet PM. The genetic data environment an expandable GUI for multiple sequence analysis. Comput Appl Biosci. 1994 Dec;10(6):671–675. [PubMed]
  • Tamura K, Nei M. Estimation of the number of nucleotide substitutions in the control region of mitochondrial DNA in humans and chimpanzees. Mol Biol Evol. 1993 May;10(3):512–526. [PubMed]

Articles from Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of The Royal Society


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • Nucleotide
    Primary database (GenBank) nucleotide records reported in the current articles as well as Reference Sequences (RefSeqs) that include the articles as references.
  • PopSet
    Sets of sequences from population and evolutionary genetic studies in the PopSet database reported in the current articles.
  • Protein
    Protein translation features of primary database (GenBank) nucleotide records reported in the current articles as well as Reference Sequences (RefSeqs) that include the articles as references.
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    PubChem chemical substance records that cite the current articles. These references are taken from those provided on submitted PubChem chemical substance records.
  • Taxonomy
    Taxonomy records associated with the current articles through taxonomic information on related molecular database records (Nucleotide, Protein, Gene, SNP, Structure).
  • Taxonomy Tree
    Taxonomy Tree

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...