Monday, July 23, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Computational Molecular Species Delimitation and Taxonomic Revision of the Gecko Genus Ebenavia Boettger, 1878

Ebenavia safari
Hawlitschek, Scherz, Ruthensteiner, Crottini & Glaw, 2018

Cryptic species have been detected in many groups of organisms and must be assumed to make up a significant portion of global biodiversity. We study geckos of the Ebenavia inunguis complex from Madagascar and surrounding islands and use species delimitation algorithms (GMYC, BOLD, BPP), COI barcode divergence, diagnostic codon indels in the nuclear marker PRLR, diagnostic categorical morphological characters, and significant differences in continuous morphological characters for its taxonomic revision. BPP yielded ≥ 10 operational taxonomic units, whereas GMYC (≥ 27) and BOLD (26) suggested substantial oversplitting. In consequnce, we resurrect Ebenavia boettgeri Boulenger 1885 and describe Ebenavia tuelinae sp. nov.Ebenavia safari sp. nov., and Ebenavia robusta sp. nov., increasing the number of recognised species in Ebenavia from two to six. Further lineages of Ebenavia retrieved by BPP may warrant species or subspecies status, but further taxonomic conclusions are postponed until more data become available. Finally, we present an identification key to the genus Ebenavia, provide an updated distribution map, and discuss the diagnostic values of computational species delimitation as well as morphological and molecular diagnostic characters.

Keywords: BOLD, Operational Taxonomic Unit, Madagascar clawless gecko, Integrative taxonomy, Taxonomic inflation, Species complex 

Genus Ebenavia Boettger, 1878 
Type species: Ebenavia inunguis Boettger, 1878

Diagnosis and description: A comprehensive diagnosis and description of the genus Ebenavia are provided in Nussbaum and Raxworthy (1998). Our data on the genus leads us to agree with the findings of that study, except that we were not able to confirm the presence of claws on the pes of any of the females we examined, as reported by these authors, in agreement with Boettger (1878) and many subsequent authors. We did not examine any specimens of E. maintimainty

Content: Ebenavia inunguis Boettger, 1878; E. boettgeri Boulenger, 1885; E. maintimainty Nussbaum & Raxworthy, 1998; and three new species described below. 

Distribution: Madagascar except most of the central and western areas; all major island areas of the Comoros Archipelago; Pemba Island (Tanzania); Mauritius.

Ebenavia inunguis Boettger, 1878 

Ebenavia boettgeri Boulenger, 1885, bona species 

Ebenavia tuelinae sp. nov. 

Etymology: A matronym dedicated to the first author’s partner Tülin (alternative spelling Tuelin) for her ceaseless support of this and other works and for her excellent spotting abilities in the field.

Ebenavia safari, a newly described species from northern Madagascar, which also occurs on the Tanzanian island of Pemba

Ebenavia safari sp. nov.

Etymology: Safari’ means ‘voyage’ in the Kiswahili and Comoran (Shimaoré) languages spoken across the range of this species outside Madagascar. The name was chosen because this species dispersed over surprisingly long distances across the open ocean. It is treated as an unlatinised, invariable noun in apposition.

Ebenavia robusta sp. nov. 

Etymology: The specific name is the feminine form of the Latin adjective ‘robustus’, meaning ‘robust’ or ‘sturdy’. It was chosen because this species is the largest and most sturdily built member of this genus of small geckos.

Oliver Hawlitschek, Mark D. Scherz, Bernhard Ruthensteiner, Angelica Crottini and Frank Glaw. 2018. Computational Molecular Species Delimitation and Taxonomic Revision of the Gecko Genus Ebenavia Boettger, 1878The Science of Nature. 105:49. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-018-1574-9