Species richness and areas of endemism of Lacertidae and Gekkonidae (Reptilia: Squamata) in Iran
Keywords:Gekkonidae, historical biogeography, Lacertidae, parsimony analysis of endemicity (PAE), Zagros Mountains
The aim of this study is to detect areas of endemism in lizards in Iran. This is the first study of its kind focusing on this subject. Areas of endemism for two families of lizards (Lacertidae and Gekkonidae) that have the highest number of endemic species than other lizard families in Iran were identified by Parsimony Analysis of Endemicity (PAE). Distribution data were collected from previous studies on the Iranian lizards and also from the recent literature on the descriptions of new endemic species. A total of 81 species of lizards were available for analysis. The study area was divided into a 2° × 2° grid of 63 Operational Geographic Units (OGUs). PAE was applied to the data matrix to detect areas of endemism and detected eight areas of endemism in southwestern Iran and near the Persian Gulf. Southern Iran is the main region where most species from Arabia came into Iran and were stopped in their dispersal. Two grids in southern and northeastern Iran were recognized as the areas with the highest density of species in the studied families. Lacertidae and Gekkonidae did not have a shared endemic species in the region (cells 59 and 60) but the area of endemism identified by PAE in the Persian Gulf region suggests that exchange between Iranian and Arabian herpetofauna was very high during interglacial periods. The distribution pattern of the endemic species of these families is concentrated in the region of the Alborz and the Zagros Mountains, but the single area of endemism in southern Iran has an important role in the historical biogeography of the Iranian herpetofauna. During interglacial periods, the Persian Gulf acted as a corridor between the herpetofauna of the two sides and this suggests the importance of this area of endemism for the Gekkonidae family. Also, the OGUs with the highest density of species are located around the country and, the lowest density is in the Central Plateau. PAE detected eight areas of endemism in southwestern Iran, but according to the number of species per units, two OGUs can be identified as high density in northeastern and southern Iran.
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