Phylogenetic analysis and a test of the current infrageneric classification of Norops (beta Anolis)

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The phylogenetic relationships among anoles have been much studied and difficult to unravel. Most work has focused on the Caribbean anoles, leaving the phylogenetic relationships among mainland anoles and the majority of Norops (beta Anolis) species virtually uninvestigated. A classification of series, subseries, and species groups within Norops was previously proposed and many workers in the field use this classification, despite a lack of understanding of the phylogenetic relationships within Norops. This paper reviews the taxonomic history and current status of Norops taxonomy. The focus of the study was to evaluate the monophyletic status of five previously described groups of Norops: the auratus, fuscoauratus, grahami, petersi, and sagrei series. Additional subgroupings below these levels were also investigated. The existing classification was tested by examining the relationships among Norops species using nuclear ITS-1 (internal transcribed spacer) DNA sequences. These data resulted in nine most parsimonious trees and supported only the monophyly of the sagrei series; the other four series do not appear monophyletic in these trees. However, in both maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses the sagrei and grahami series were monophyletic, while the remaining three series (auratus, fuscoauratus, and petersi series) were not monophyletic. The monophyly of the grahami series could not be statistically rejected, but the remaining three series (auratus, fuscoauratus, and petersi series) were statistically rejected. In addition, the monophyly of two subseries and four species groups was statistically rejected, while the monophyly of one species group could not be rejected, and one subseries and three species groups were of ambiguous monophyletic status. The lack of support for these previously described series is not surprising given that the groups were erected largely on phenetic bases and are not observed when these data are analyzed cladistically. I propose continued recognition of the sagrei series, grahami series, and laeviventris species group, but I caution future workers to refrain from assigning species to other previously described groups until support for them is found, or a well supported alternative classification is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-120
Number of pages28
JournalHerpetological Monographs
Issue number16
StatePublished - 2002


  • Anoles
  • Anolis
  • Classification
  • Iguanidae
  • Internal Transcribed Spacer Unit
  • Norops
  • Phylogenetics
  • Polychrotinae
  • Sauria


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