Last year, Nicholson et al. proposed splitting Anolis into eight genera in a paper in Zootaxa. This idea was extensively debated in AA’s pages (e.g., 1,2,3 and links therein). Now, two papers have been published criticizing the methods and conclusions of Nicholson et al. and suggesting that the generic name Anolis be retained for the entire clade.
In a paper just published two days ago in Zootaxa, Steve Poe argues strongly against Nicholson et al.’s proposal on multiple grounds, primarily on the lack of demonstrated monophyly of most of the proposed genera. Poe concludes at the end of the introduction of the paper: “Nicholson et al. (2012) selectively adopted results of their own flawed, unstable, and conflicting analyses, selectively incorporated pertinent published data and results, and changed names for over 100 species that have never been included in a phylogenetic analysis. The proposed taxonomy is unnecessary and unwarranted according to standard taxonomic practice. It should not be adopted by the scientific or nonacademic communities.” The paper is only five pages long and is readily downloaded.
Meanwhile, within the past month, Castañeda and de Queiroz published a paper in the Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology on phylogenetic relationships within the Dactyloa clade of anoles (pdf, supplementary material). The paper is a follow-up to their 2011 paper on Dactyloa, adding morphological data to the molecular dataset analyzed previously. We’ll have more on this paper soon, but the pertinent part for today is the “Note added in Proof” appended to the beginning of the paper. The authors explain “Shortly after our paper was accepted, Nicholson and colleagues published a phylogenetic analysis of anoles and a proposal to divide Anolis into eight genera… Here, we comment briefly on their study as it pertains to the phylogeny and taxonomy of the Dactyloa clade,” and then go on to criticize Nicholson et al.’s recognition of genera (in this case, Dactyloa) and species groups that are not monophyletic in their own analyses. Moreover, like Poe, Castañeda and de Queiroz present strong critiques of the Nicholson et al. methodology and analyses, concluding “Because our results are based on larger samples of Dactyloa species (for both molecular and morphological data), as well as larger samples of molecular data (with respect to both numbers of bases and numbers of gene fragments, and including both mitochondrial and nuclear genes), and because many of their taxonomic conclusions that differ from ours are either contradicted by their own results or unsubstantiated, we do not consider any of the differences between our phylogenetic results and taxonomic conclusions compared with those in the study by Nicholson et al. (2012) to warrant changes to our proposed taxonomy. In contrast to Nicholson et al. (2012), we refrain from assigning some species to series and treat some taxonomic assignments as tentative because of contradictory results or poorly supported inferences, and we present justifications for all taxonomic decisions pertaining to species not included in our analyses.”
The Castañeda and de Queiroz critique is only two pages long. Read ‘em both and decide for yourself.