Friday, June 6, 2008

The Rich Get Richer

The world's most species-rich amniote genus has just welcomed a new member: Anolis cuscoensis (Poe et al. 2008. Journal of Herpetology 42:251-259). This beautiful green animal from Peru is a member of an ancient anole lineage with representatives in both mainland Central and South America and the Lesser Antilles (the lineage was prematurely assigned to the genus Dactyloa by Guyer and Savage). This lineage is only distantly related to the species that comprise the species-rich Greater Antillean fauna. Steve Poe has picked up the torch from his undergraduate mentor - the famous anole guru Ernest Williams - by conducting much needed alpha taxomic on the relatively poorly know South American anole fauna. I just wish brother Poe would have put together the type of phylogenetic analysis that would have been deserving of his considerable talents. There is a tree showing the position of the new species, but it lacks any indication of support (it notes only that all nodes are supported by bootstrap values >50). Moreover, they state that the tree is based on 1,666 parsimony informative characters, but they gathered data on 81 morphological traits from the new species: it seems, therefore, that molecular data making up the majority of the dataset is still missing for Anolis cuscoensis. Oh well. Nit-picking aside, this paper goes much further than most species descriptions. Go team!

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