Iguanian lizards form a diverse clade whose members have been the focus of many comparative studies of ecology, behavior, and evolution. Despite the importance of phylogeny to such studies, interrelationships among many iguanian clades remain uncertain. Within the Old World clade Acrodonta, Agamidae is sometimes found to be paraphyletic with respect to Chamaeleonidae, and recent molecular studies have produced conflicting results for many major clades. Within the largely New World clade Pleurodonta, relationships among the 12 currently recognized major subclades (mostly ranked as families) have been largely unresolved or poorly supported in previous studies. To clarify iguanian evolutionary history, we first infer phylogenies using concatenated maximum-likelihood (ML) and Bayesian analyses of DNA sequence data from 29 nuclear protein-coding genes for 47 iguanian and 29 outgroup taxa. We then estimate a relaxed-clock Bayesian chronogram for iguanians using BEAST. All three methods produce identical topologies. Within Acrodonta, we find strong support for monophyly of Agamidae with respect to Chamaeleonidae, and for almost all relationships within agamids. Within Pleurodonta, we find strong Bayesian support for almost all relationships, and strong ML support for some interfamilial relationships and for monophyly of almost all families (excepting Polychrotidae). Our phylogenetic results suggest a non-traditional biogeographic scenario in which pleurodonts originated in the Northern Hemisphere and subsequently spread southward into South America. The pleurodont portion of the tree is characterized by several very short, deep branches, raising the possibility of deep coalescences that may confound concatenated analyses. We therefore also use 27 of these genes to implement a coalescent-based species-tree approach for pleurodonts. Although this analysis strongly supports monophyly of the pleurodont families, interfamilial relationships are generally different from those in the concatenated tree, and support is uniformly poor. However, a species-tree analysis using only the seven most variable loci yields higher support and more congruence with the concatenated tree. This suggests that low support in the 27-gene species-tree analysis may be an artifact of the many loci that are uninformative for very short branches. This may be a general problem for the application of species-tree methods to rapid radiations, even with phylogenomic data sets. Finally, we correct the non-monophyly of Polychrotidae by recognizing the pleurodont genus Anolis (sensu lato) as a separate family (Dactyloidae), and we correct the non-monophyly of the agamid genus Physignathus by resurrection of the genus Istiurus for the former Physignathus lesueurii.
- Nuclear DNA
- Species tree
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology