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J Evol Biol. 2012 Apr;25(4):647-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02460.x. Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Morphological differentiation correlates with ecological but not with genetic divergence in a Gehyra gecko.

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1
Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodversity, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia. mark.sistrom@adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

Body size affects life history, the ecological niche of an organism and its interactions with other organisms. Resultantly, marked differences in body size between related organisms are often an indication of a species boundary. This is particularly evident in the Gehyra variegata species complex of geckos, which displays differential body sizes between genetically divergent species, but high levels of intraspecific morphological conservatism. We report on a Gehyra population that displays extraordinary body size differentiation in comparison with other G. variegata species. We used morphological and environmental data to show this population is phenotypically and ecologically distinct from its parapatric congener Gehyra lazelli and that morphology and ecology are significantly correlated. Contrastingly, mtDNA analysis indicates paraphyly between the two groups, and allele frequencies at six microsatellite loci show no population structure concordant with morpho-/ecotype. These results suggest either ecological speciation or environmentally induced phenotypic polymorphism, in an otherwise morphologically conservative group.

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