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

Systematics of the Egernia whitii species group (Lacertilia : Scincidae) in south-eastern Australia

Stephen C. Donnellan, Mark N. Hutchinson, Paula Dempsey and William S. Osborne

Australian Journal of Zoology 50(5) 439 - 459
Published: 12 December 2002


Allozyme electrophoresis was used to assess the taxonomic significance of colour pattern variation within and between populations of the Egernia whitii species group from 41 locations in south-eastern Australia. Analysis of the products of 39 presumed loci revealed that a minimum of three species are present in southern New South Wales among populations previously referred to Egernia whitii. Fixed allelic differences were maintained where pairs of species were sympatric. One of these three species is wide-ranging and is the one to which the name E. whitii is properly applied. The other two are more restricted ecologically and geographically and are described here as new. The three species are genetically and morphologically distinct from the other three eastern Australian members of the species group, E. margaretae, E. modesta, and E. multiscutata. Genetic data and a review of the morphological evidence provide no support for the recognition of subspecies within either E. whitii (sensu stricto) or E. multiscutata.

© CSIRO 2002

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