Monday, March 18, 2019

[Herpetology • 2019] Hemiphyllodactylus jnana, H. kolliensis & H. arakuensis The Hills are Alive with Geckos! A Radiation of A Dozen Species (Squamata: Gekkonidae, Hemiphyllodactylus) on Sky Islands Across peninsular India with the Description of Three New Species

Hemiphyllodactylus jnanaH. kolliensis & H. arakuensis 

Agarwal, Khandekar, Giri, Ramakrishnan & Karanth, 2019

Sky Islands are high-elevation environments that are separated by warmer, low elevations, forming natural patches of unique montane habitat that often persist through changing climates. Peninsular India was ancestrally forested and has gradually become more arid since at least the Oligocene, and open landscapes have dominated since the middle-late Miocene. Mesic forests today are largely restricted to coastal mountains and some other montane habitats. A mitochondrial phylogeny and fossil-calibrated timetree of Indian Hemiphyllodactylus reveal an Indochinese origin and an endemic radiation with 12 species-level lineages, where a single species was known, that diversified in the Oligocene-Miocene across montane forest habitats in the Eastern Ghats and south India. The phylogeny also suggests the discontinuous Eastern Ghats mountain range encompasses two distinct biogeographic entities: north and south of the Pennar/Krishna-Godavari River basins. This study highlights the deep history of the region and the importance of montane habitats as islands of unique biodiversity that have persisted through millions of years of changing climates. We describe three new speciesHemiphyllodactylus arakuensis sp. nov., H. jnana sp. nov. and H. kolliensis sp. nov. from montane habitats above 1000 m. The montane habitats of these species are emerging hotspots of reptile endemism, and this study emphasizes the need for systematic biodiversity inventory across India to uncover basic patterns of diversity and distribution.

Keywords: Biogeography, Divergence dating, Eastern Ghats, Systematics, Western Ghats

Hemiphyllodactylus jnana sp. nov. in life (adult male BNHS 1936).  

Hemiphyllodactylus jnana sp. nov.
Bangalore slender gecko.

Etymology: The specific epithet, jnana (jñāna or nyaa-na), is the Kannada word for knowledge, derived from the same root in Pali/ Sanskrit and is used as a noun in apposition. The name is given in honour of two scientific institutions in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), within the grounds of which the species was first found. The Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) at IISc and NCBS are at the centre of research in ecology and evolution in India, and the authors have all either worked or studied at these institutions.

 Hemiphyllodactylus kolliensis sp. nov. in life
 (from top to bottom: dorsal and ventral view of adult male holotype CES G138, dorsal view of adult female paratype AK 277).

 Hemiphyllodactylus kolliensis sp. nov.
Kolli slender gecko

Etymology: The specific epithet is a toponym for the type locality of the species, the Kolli Hills (known locally as Kollimalai)

 Hemiphyllodactylus arakuensis sp. nov. in life
 (dorsal view of adult male; holotype CES G446, paratype CES G068).

 Hemiphyllodactylus arakuensis sp. nov.
Araku slender gecko

Etymology: The specific epithet is a toponym for the type locality of the species, Araku.


Ishan Agarwal, Akshay Khandekar, Varad B. Giri, Uma Ramakrishnan and K. Praveen Karanth. 2019. The Hills are Alive with Geckos! A Radiation of A Dozen Species on Sky Islands Across peninsular India (Squamata: Gekkonidae, Hemiphyllodactylus) with the Description of Three New Species. Organisms Diversity & Evolution.  DOI: 10.1007/s13127-019-00392-5