Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

At the end of the line: independent overwater colonizations of the Solomon Islands by a hyperdiverse trans-Wallacean lizard lineage (Cyrtodactylus: Gekkota: Squamata)

October 25, 2017

The islands of East Melanesia have generated key insights into speciation processes and community assembly. However, when and how these islands began to form, emerge and accumulate endemic taxa remains poorly understood. Here, we show that two divergent lineages within the world’s most diverse genus of geckos (Cyrtodactylus) occur in the Solomon Islands. One large-bodied species is nested within a radiation from far eastern New Guinea, with inferred colonization, spread and diversification since the late Miocene. In contrast, a newly sampled and relatively small species with a restricted distribution on Guadalcanal Island is a relict that diverged from extant congeners around the early to mid-Miocene. Similar Miocene divergences from extralimital relatives have been inferred for other endemic bird, bat and lizard lineages in East Melanesia. In contrast, across all lineages (including divergent relictual lineages), there is little evidence for endemic in situ diversification within East Melanesia predating the Pliocene (especially in the Solomon Islands). While some East Melanesian endemic lineages may have origins on progenitor islands during the Miocene or even earlier, current evidence suggests the in situ diversification and assembly of extant biological communities commenced around the end of the Miocene.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title At the end of the line: independent overwater colonizations of the Solomon Islands by a hyperdiverse trans-Wallacean lizard lineage (Cyrtodactylus: Gekkota: Squamata)
DOI 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx047
Authors Paul M. Oliver, Scott L Travers, Jonathan Q. Richmond, Patrick Pikacha, Robert N. Fisher
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Index ID 70191897
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center