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Gecko diversity: a history of global discovery

In: Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution
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  • 1 Center for Biological Data Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1000 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23284, USA
  • | 2 Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
  • | 3 School of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, 6997801, Tel-Aviv, Israel
  • | 4 The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University, 6997801, Tel-Aviv, Israel
  • | 5 Department of Natural Sciences, University of Michigan-Dearborn,4901 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI 48128, USA
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1935 gecko species (and 224 subspecies) were known in December 2019 in seven families and 124 genera. These nearly 2000 species were described by ~950 individuals of whom more than 100 described more than 10 gecko species each. Most gecko species were discovered during the past 40 years. The primary type specimens of all currently recognized geckos (including subspecies) are distributed over 161 collections worldwide, with 20 collections having about two thirds of all primary types. The primary type specimens of about 40 gecko taxa have been lost or unknown. The phylogeny of geckos is well studied, with DNA sequences being available for ~76% of all geckos (compared to ~63% in other reptiles) and morphological characters now being collected in databases. Geographically, geckos occur on five continents and many islands but are most species-rich in Australasia (which also houses the greatest diversity of family-level taxa), Southeast Asia, Africa, Madagascar, and the West Indies. Among countries, Australia has the highest number of geckos (241 species), with India, Madagascar, and Malaysia being the only other countries with more than 100 described species each. As expected, when correcting for land area, countries outside the tropics have fewer geckos.

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