EvolGenomics Journal Club: Phylogeographic analysis of a widespread lizard complex using restriction site‐associated DNA markers

We will discuss the recent study of Gray et al. that uses ecological niche modelling and coalescent analyses to infer the phylogeography of the Anolis sericeus complex.


Marie Leys selected:

Molecular Ecology (2019) 28: 644-657


  • A primary challenge for modern phylogeography is understanding how ecology and geography, both contemporary and historical, shape the spatial distribution and evolutionary histories of species. Phylogeographic patterns are the result of many factors, including geology, climate, habitat, colonization history and lineage‐specific constraints. Assessing the relative influences of these factors is difficult because few species, regions and environments are sampled in enough detail to compare competing hypotheses rigorously and because a particular phylogeographic pattern can potentially result from different evolutionary scenarios.
  • The silky anoles (Anolis sericeus complex) of Central America and Mexico are abundant and found in all types of lowland terrestrial habitat, offering an excellent opportunity to test the relative influences of the factors affecting diversification.
  • Here, we performed a range‐wide statistical phylogeographic analysis on restriction site‐associated DNA (RAD) markers from silky anoles and compared the phylogeographic patterns we recovered to historical and contemporary environmental and topographic data. We constructed niche models to compare niche overlap between sister lineages and conducted coalescent simulations to characterize how the major lineages of silky anoles have diverged.
  • Our results revealed that the mode of divergence for major lineage diversification events was geographic isolation, resulting in ecological divergence between lineages, followed by secondary contact. Moreover, comparisons of parapatric sister lineages suggest that ecological niche divergence contributed to isolation by environment in this system, reflecting the natural history differences among populations in divergent environments.


Marie Leys
Published Mar. 3, 2019 11:58 AM - Last modified Mar. 3, 2019 11:58 AM