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Taxonomy of Micronesian monitor lizards

AutorInnen: 
Weijola, V., Vahtera, V., Koch, A., Schmitz, A., Kraus, F.
Erscheinungsjahr: 
2020
Vollständiger Titel: 
Taxonomy of Micronesian monitors (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanus): endemic status of new species argues for caution in pursuing eradication plans Valter Weijola , Varpu Vahtera , André Koch , Andreas Schmitz Taxonomy of Micronesian monitors (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanus): endemic status of new species argues for caution in pursuing eradication plans Valter Weijola , Varpu Vahtera , André Koch , Andreas Schmitz
ZFMK-Autorinnen / ZFMK-Autoren: 
Publiziert in: 
Royal Society Open Science
Publikationstyp: 
Zeitschriftenaufsatz
DOI Name: 
https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.200092
Keywords: 
alien species, Caroline Islands, eradication, Mariana Islands, trans-marine dispersal
Bibliographische Angaben: 
Weijola, V.,Vahtera, V., Koch, A., Schmitz, A., Kraus, F. (2020): Taxonomy of Micronesian monitors (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanus): endemic status of new species argues for caution in pursuing eradication plans. - Royal Society Open Science 7: 200092
Abstract: 

In the light of recent phylogenetic studies, we re-assess the taxonomy and biogeography of the Varanus populations distributed in the Micronesian islands of Palau, the Western Carolines and the Marianas. Whether these populations are of natural origin or human introductions has long been contentious, but no study has fully resolved that question. Here, we present molecular and morphological evidence that monitor lizards of the Varanus indicus Group reached both Palau and the Mariana Islands sometime in the late Pleistocene and subsequently differentiated into two separate species endemic to each geographical region. One species is confined to the Mariana Islands, and for these populations, we revalidate the name V. tsukamotoi Kishida, 1929. The other species has a disjunct distribution in Palau, the Western Carolines and Sarigan Island in the Northern Marianas and is herein described as V. bennetti sp. nov. Both species are most closely allied to each other, V. lirungensis and V. rainerguentheri, suggesting that colonization of Micronesia took place from the Moluccas. We discuss the biogeographic distributions of both species in the light of the likely colonization mechanism and previous arguments for human introduction, and we argue that bounties for Palauan populations are ill-advised and plans for eradication of some other populations must first demonstrate that they are, in fact, introduced and not native.

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