ASIH 2015: Biogeography of Central American Anoles

AA‘s correspondent in the West Coast Bureau, Alexis Harrison, just filed this report from Reno:

At the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Reno, Nevada this week, the most surprising news for an anolologist may be the lack of presentations focusing on anoles. Given the ubiquity of anoles in ecology and evolutionary studies, I’ve come to expect a steady stream of anole presentations and posters, anole discussions, anole-themed paraphernalia and other anole-centric events. Maybe I’ve been living too much in an anole-shaped bubble.

The sole anole-focused talk was a presentation by Kirsten Nicholson (with co-authors Craig Guyer and John Phillips) entitled “Biogeography of Central American anoles in the genus Norops”. In this talk, Nicholson et al. explore biogeographic hypotheses developed in their 2012 paper in greater detail, with a particular focus on the timing and geographic context of diversification in the Norops clade. Current and ongoing work incorporates the addition of several new species and greater sampling of widespread species into the phylogeny. Although the results presented were preliminary (mitochondrial sequences are already available, with nuclear sequence data to come), the broad patterns in the data appear to be consistent with the conclusions from the 2012 paper: the estimated divergence times among three subclades of the Norops group are ancient, in the range of 40-50mya, while a reconstruction of the ancestral range of the Norops group suggests an early colonization of South America followed by re-expansion northward and then back south.

Regular readers of Anole Annals will probably remember the vigorous debate occasioned by the publication of Nicholson et al 2012. Based on this latest research, I think we can expect further provocative papers and ensuing discussion in the near future. Let’s hope this will stimulate more Anolis talks at next years JMIH meeting in New Orleans!

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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