Evolutionary diversification of the lizard genus Bassiana (Scincidae) across Southern Australia

Sylvain Dubey*, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Background:Relatively recent (Plio-Pleistocene) climatic variations had strong impacts on the fauna and flora of temperatezone North America and Europe; genetic analyses suggest that many lineages were restricted to unglaciated refuges during this time, and have expanded their ranges since then. Temperate-zone Australia experienced less severe glaciation, suggesting that patterns of genetic structure among species may reflect older (aridity-driven) divergence events rather than Plio-Pleistocene (thermally-mediated) divergences. The lizard genus Bassiana (Squamata, Scincidae) contains three species that occur across a wide area of southern Australia (including Tasmania), rendering them ideally-suited to studies on the impact of past climatic fluctuations. Methodology/Principal Findings: We performed molecular phylogenetic and dating analyses using two partial mitochondrial genes (ND2 and ND4) of 97 samples of Bassiana spp. Our results reveal a pattern of diversification beginning in the Middle Miocene, with intraspecific diversification arising from 5.7 to 1.7 million years ago in the Upper Miocene-Lower Pleistocene. Conclusions/Significance: In contrast to the temperate-zone Northern Hemisphere biota, patterns of evolutionary diversification within southern Australian taxa appear to reflect geologically ancient events, mostly relating to east-west discontinuities imposed by aridity rather than (as is the case in Europe and North America) relatively recent recolonisation of northern regions from unglaciated refugia to the south.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12982
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2010. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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