A phylogenetic analysis of variation in reproductive mode within an Australian lizard (Saiphos equalis, Scincidae)

Sarah A. Smith*, Christopher C. Austin, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Saiphos equalis, a semi-fossorial scincid lizard from south-eastern Australia, is one of only three reptile species world-wide that are known to display geographic variation in reproductive mode. Uniquely, Saiphos equalis includes populations with three reproductive modes: oviparous with long (15-day) incubation periods; oviparous with short (5-day) incubation periods; and viviparous (0-day incubation periods). No Saipho populations show 'normal' scincid oviparity (>30-day incubation period). We used mitochondrial nucleotide sequences (ND2 and cytochrome b) to reconstruct relationships among populations from throughout the species' distribution in New South Wales, Australia. Under the phylogenetic species concept, phylogenetic analyses are consistent with the oviparous and viviparous populations of S. equalis being conspecific. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the long incubation period oviparous lineage is the sister group to all other populations; and that the viviparous populations belong to a cluster of weakly supported clades basal to the short-incubation-period oviparous clade. These clades correspond to variation in reproductive mode and geographic location.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian lizards
  • Phylogeny
  • Reproductive mode
  • Reptiles
  • Scincidae
  • Viviparity


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