Additions to the lizard diversity of the Horn of Africa: Two new species in the Agama spinosa group

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
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  • 1 1Department of Biology, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085, USA
  • | 2 2Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany
  • | 3 3Department of Biology and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 98195-1800, USA
  • | 4 4Dříteč 65, 53305, Czech Republic
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The Horn of Africa is a center of diversity for African agamid lizards. Among the nine species of Agama occurring in the Horn of Africa, Agama spinosa is the most widely distributed. The A. spinosa group (sensu stricto, morphologically defined by possessing six clusters of spinose scales around the ear) contains two species: A. spinosa occurs from Egypt to Ethiopia and Somalia where it is replaced by the morphologically distinct and therefore sensu lato A. bottegi. Both species are only represented in museum collections by a small number of specimens from Ethiopia and Somalia, presumably the result of constant civil war that has plagued the region for decades and impeded field surveys. In this study, we examine species limits in the A. spinosa group using molecular genetic data (503 characters; mitochondrial 16S rRNA) and morphological data (67 characters). Deep divisions among populations of A. spinosa are supported by phylogenetic analyses and by multivariate analyses of morphometric data. Two new species from northern Somalia that differ from A. spinosa and A. bottegi are described. Furthermore, A. smithi, currently recognized as a synonym of A. agama, is re-assessed and recognized as a species of uncertain taxonomic position (i.e., incertae sedis). The results of this study improve our understanding of the evolution of agamid lizard diversity in the Horn of Africa, a significant biodiversity hotspot in Africa.

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