Old but not ancient: Coalescent species tree of New Caledonian geckos reveals recent post-inundation diversification

Phillip L. Skipwith, Aaron M. Bauer, Todd R. Jackman, Ross A. Sadlier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Aim: New Caledonia is a remnant of the land mass Tasmantis that harbours high levels of endemism. Two primary hypotheses have been proposed for the origin of such endemic lineages; the first suggests a vicariant origin arising from the sundering of eastern Gondwana in the Cretaceous. The second posits more recent dispersal and colonization. We use concatenated and coalescent time-calibrated phylogenies to test whether New Caledonian diplodactylid geckos diversified steadily following an ancient vicariance event or experienced an early burst of diversification followed by a decline in net diversification after long-distance dispersal. Location: New Caledonia, Gondwana. Methods: Phylogenetic relationships were elucidated from a multilocus DNA data set. Divergence times were inferred using relaxed clock Bayesian methods on the concatenated data set and in a multispecies coalescent framework using *beast. In order to elucidate patterns of diversification for the New Caledonian clade we tested models of diversification using laser and ddd. Results: The divergence of the New Caledonian clade from its Australian sister clade occurred well after Gondwanan fragmentation, and the age of the crown clade is younger than the proposed drowning period of the island. Diversification analyses strongly suggest that the group experienced an early burst of diversification, which has slowed towards the present. Main conclusions: We demonstrate that the species-rich diplodactylid geckos endemic to New Caledonia are of recent origin and that the diversification of the clade is consistent with the expectations of a recent radiation. Diversification in this clade does not conform to a constant-rate model, but rather experienced an initial burst followed by a decline in net diversification. This pattern is consistent with a decline in diversification as ecological niche space was filled. Our results add to the growing body of evidence that recent adaptive radiations have contributed to the remarkable endemism of New Caledonia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1266-1276
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Diplodactylidae
  • Dispersal
  • Diversity dependence
  • New Caledonia
  • Species tree
  • Tasmantis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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