Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Phylogeographic patterns in reptiles on the New England Tablelands at the south-western boundary of the McPherson Macleay Overlap

D. J. Colgan A C , D. O’Meally A B and R. A. Sadlier A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A The Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

B Current address: Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Acton, ACT 0200, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Zoology 57(5) 317-328
Submitted: 21 November 2008  Accepted: 2 June 2009   Published: 20 November 2009


Phylogeographic studies of eastern Australia have generally supported earlier biogeographical studies based on taxon distributions by concurring in the placement of significant intraspecific boundaries. Such studies may potentially clarify biogeographic boundaries that are presently unclear, such as the poorly defined southern edges of the McPherson Macleay Overlap. Here we investigate reptile phylogeography in the northern tablelands of New South Wales to study the south-western boundaries of the Overlap as these are especially uncertain. Cytochrome b sequences from Ctenotus robustus, C. taeniolatus and Oedura lesueurii, three lizard species widespread across the New England Tablelands, were analysed by examining single-strand conformational polymorphism and DNA sequencing. In both O. lesueurii and C. taeniolatus most deeper nodes within species define geographically localised clades. This was not the case for C. robustus. Boundaries between sister-group clades were discovered in multiple locations in the region – between Glen Innes and Armidale, between Armidale and Tamworth and to the south of the Liverpool Plains. The boundaries in C. taeniolatus and O. lesueurii were probably formed in at least two different periods. The phylogeographic patterns may be partly explained by glacially induced aridity cycles in the early Pleistocene or before.

Additional keywords: Ctenotus, gecko, McPherson Macleay Overlap, Oedura, phylogeographic boundary, skink.


We thank Gerry Swan and Stephanie Clark for assisting with collections, and the New South Wales State Government for funding through a Policy Enhancement Grant. Animals were collected for this project under the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Scientific Authority A1397 (Australian Museum), the Forestry Commission of New South Wales Special Purposes Permit for Research 5138 (Australian Museum). We thank Glenn Shea for extensive advice during the course of the project and two anonymous referees for constructive advice on a previous version of the manuscript.


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Appendix 1.  Collection localities
The entries show in order: the site number used in O’Meally and Colgan (2005), place name and geographic coordinates. Abbreviations: Creek, Ck; Mount, Mt; Mountain, Mtn; National Park, NP; Nature Reserve, NR; Range, Ra; Road, Rd; State Forest, SF; State Recreation Area, SRA. Missing numbers (e.g. 1, 7, 12, 13) indicate sites used in O’Meally and Colgan (2005) but not here. These generally lacked collections of the studied species
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Appendix 2.  Haplotype variation in the studied species
For each individual specimen identified by the Registration (‘R’) number from the Australian Museum Herpetology collection, provenance is indicated by the population number in Appendix 1 and the haplotype (within species) is identified by letter. Asterisks on the haplotype designations indicate that this specimen has been sequenced
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