Evol Ecol Res 5: 953-976 (2003)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Geographic parthenogenesis in the Australian arid zone: I. A climatic analysis of the Heteronotia binoei complex (Gekkonidae)

Michael Kearney,1* Adnan Moussalli,2 Jared Strasburg,3 David Lindenmayer4 and Craig Moritz5

1 School of Biological Sciences, Heydon Laurence Building A08, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia,  2Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia,  3Department of Biology, Washington University, St Louis, MO 63130, USA,  4Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia and  5Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: mkearney@bio.usyd.edu.au


Patterns of geographic parthenogenesis can provide insight into the ecological implications of the transition from sexual to parthenogenetic reproduction. We analysed quantitatively the environmental niches occupied by sexual and parthenogenetic geckos of the Heteronotia binoei complex in the Australian arid zone. This complex consists of two independently derived maternal lineages of hybrid parthenogens, which, in turn, include two different triploid races that resulted from reciprocal backcrossing with the parental sexual taxa. The sexual progenitors are still extant and occupy very distinct environmental niches. The triploid parthenogenetic races are biased in their environmental niche towards those of the sexual races for which their genomes are biased and this dosage effect is apparent in both maternal lineages. Thus triploidy may have benefited the parthenogens through partial recovery of the parental niches. Although the parthenogens have a broader geographic distribution than their sexual progenitors, their environmental niche is narrower and biased towards one of the sexual races. In keeping with general patterns of geographic parthenogenesis, parthenogenetic H. binoei occupy a harsher environment than the sexual forms, occurring in regions of persistently low rainfall. Bioclimatic modelling suggests patterns of rainfall are important in limiting the distribution of sexual and parthenogenetic taxa, and extrapolation from the current bioclimatic profiles indicates potential for further eastward range expansion by the parthenogens.

Keywords: arid zone, Australia, climate, gecko, parthenogenesis.

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