Are the Data Sufficient to Split Anolis into Eight Genera?

Yesterday, I summarized the points made in Nicholson et al.’s recent Zootaxa rebuttal. To me, there are two main issues stemming from this paper. I’ll discuss the first today and the second tomorrow.

The first question is whether the eight proposed genera are monophyletic. There has been much criticism on this point in our pages and this was a central point in Poe’s critique. Nicholson et al.’s response strongly lays out their contention that all studies in recent times have found evidence for the same eight groups. They claim that there are very few species whose position is uncertain, not enough to worry about.

At this point, I personally don’t think it’s worth expending more effort arguing back-and-forth on this matter. Both sides have made their points. In a few years, we’ll have a lot more data on anole systematics and we’ll find out who’s right. If Nicholson et al. are correct that only a few species are in play (i.e., moved from one of their genera to another, as they have already done with A. christophei), then they’ll be vindicated. If they’re wrong and there are major upheavals to their preferred phylogeny, then their proposal will be seen as premature and misguided.

I don’t see the point in arguing this one any further.

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

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