Abstract

Philippine False Geckos (genus Pseudogekko) are secretive, delicate, slender-bodied, arboreal members of an obligate forest specialist clade that is substantially more species diverse than previously assumed. Over the last century, few species were added to this Philippine endemic genus. During the last decade, however, revisionary studies have resulted in the recognition of six new species. Several of these appear to be rare, have restricted geographic ranges, or exhibit patchy, fragmented areas of occurrence. In this study we report on the discovery of a second Luzon Island species in the P. brevipes complex, a clade in which members typically have diminutive bodies. Although the new species is readily diagnosed from all congeners, we estimated its systematic affinities with a phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data and confirm that it is nested within the P. brevipes clade. The new species constitutes an exception to the general appearance of other members of the P. brevipes complex, in that it has a relatively heavy-bodied, robust stature, separating it phenotypically from all members of the group. Our new species constitutes the second Luzon lineage in this group of rainforest species (considered previously to be restricted to the Negros-Panay and Mindanao Pleistocene aggregate island complexes [PAICs] in the central and southern landmasses of the archipelago). Given the lack of available biodiversity information for the major remaining forests of the Bicol Peninsula, which necessarily come from targeted faunal surveys, the new species' conservation status cannot yet be assessed. In light of the highly fragmented nature of forested habitats of southern Luzon, we suspect the new species might be vulnerable to extinction as a result of habitat loss.

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