The role of geography and ecological opportunity in the diversification of day geckos (Phelsuma).

Luke J. Harmon, Jane Melville, Allan Larson, Jonathan B. Losos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


We examine the effects of ecological opportunity and geographic area on rates of species accumulation and morphological evolution following archipelago colonization in day geckos (genus Phelsuma) in the Indian Ocean. Using a newly generated molecular phylogeny for the genus, we present evidence that these geckos likely originated on Madagascar, whereas colonization of three archipelagos in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles, Mascarene, and Comoros Islands has produced three independent monophyletic radiations. We find that rates of species accumulation are not elevated following colonization but are roughly equivalent on all three isolated archipelagos and on the larger island of Madagascar. However, rates of species accumulation have slowed through time on Madagascar. Rates of morphological evolution are higher in both the Mascarene and Seychelles archipelagos compared to rates on Madagascar. This negative relationship between rate of morphological evolution and island area suggests that ecological opportunity is an important factor in diversification of day gecko species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-573
Number of pages12
JournalSystematic Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2008


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