Phylogeny of Neotropical Cercosaura (Squamata: Gymnophthalmidae) lizards

Omar Torres-Carvajal, Simón E. Lobos, Pablo J. Venegas

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22 Scopus citations


Among Neotropical lizards, the geographically widespread gymnophthalmid Cercosaura as currently defined includes lowland and highland taxa from Panama to Argentina, with some species occurring in the northern Andes. In this study we analyze three mitochondrial (12S, 16S, ND4) and one nuclear (c-mos) gene using Bayesian methods to clarify the phylogenetic relationships among most species of Cercosaura based on a well-supported phylogenetic hypothesis that also includes a large sample of other taxa within Cercosaurini. The phylogenetic tree obtained in this paper shows that Cercosaura as currently defined is not monophyletic. Two species from the northern Andes (C. dicra and C. vertebralis) are nested within Pholidobolus, which has been formerly recognized as a major radiation along the Andes of Ecuador and Colombia. Therefore, Cercosaura has probably not diversified in the northern Andes, although the phylogenetic position of C. hypnoides from the Andes of Colombia remains unknown. Tree topology and genetic distances support both recognition of C. ocellata bassleri as a distinct species, C. bassleri, and recognition of C. argula and C. oshaughnessyi as two different species. In the interest of promoting clarity and precision regarding the names of clades of gymnophthalmid lizards, we propose a phylogenetic definition of Cercosaura.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-288
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Andes
  • Cercosaurini
  • Gymnophthalmidae
  • Lizards
  • Phylogenetics
  • South America


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