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Phylogenetic relationships of African Caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona): insights from mitochondrial rRNA gene sequences

By M. Wilkinson, S.P. Loader, D.J. Gower, J.A. Sheps and B.L. Cohen

Abstract

Africa (excluding the Seychelles) has a diverse caecilian fauna, including the endemic family Scolecomorphidae and six endemic genera of the more cosmopolitan Caeciliidae. Previous molecular phylogenetic studies have not included any caecilians from the African mainland. Partial 12S and 16S mitochondrial gene sequences were obtained for two species of the endemic African Scolecomorphidae and five species and four genera of African Caeciliids, aligned against previously reported sequences for 16 caecilian species, and analysed using parsimony, maximum likelihood, Bayesian and distance methods. Results are in agreement with traditional taxonomy in providing support for the monophyly of the African Caeciliid genera <i>Boulengerula</i> and <i>Schistometopum</i> and for the Scolecomorphidae. They disagree in indicating that the Caeciliidae is paraphyletic with respect to the Scolecomorphidae. Although more data from morphology and/or molecules will be required to resolve details of the interrelationships of the African caecilian genera, the data provide strong support for at least two origins of caecilians in which the eye is reduced and covered with bone, and do not support the hypotheses that the caecilian assemblages of Africa, and of East and of West Africa are monophyletic

Topics: QH426
Publisher: Herpetological Association of Africa
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gla.ac.uk:2980
Provided by: Enlighten

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