Abstract

Recent higher level phylogenetic analyses of gekkonid lizards of the genus Lepidodactylus uncovered an array of unrecognized species diversity, particularly within the Philippine archipelago. Novel phylogenetic analyses of multilocus data sets suggest that as many as five, previously undescribed, species-level lineages of Scaly-toed Geckos occur in just the northern portions of the archipelago. Here, we evaluate Lepidodactylus species diversity in the Lepidodactylus yami–balioburius clade and describe four new forest species from Luzon Island and surrounding minor island groups. Interestingly, these species are the first endemic Lepidodactylus taxa described from Luzon proper and peripheral islands. In this first review of Philippine Scaly-toed Gecko diversity in nearly half a century, we use a suite of morphological characters along with molecular data to delimit evolutionary lineages. All species described in this paper can be distinguished from congeners by an array of discrete external traits; all are also monophyletic groups, separated in our phylogenetic analyses of the mitochondrial ND2 gene. This study increases significantly the number of known Scaly-toed Geckos in the Philippines from 7 to 11, which is likely still an underestimate of the species diversity in this understudied clade.

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