Cryptic species, taxonomic inflation, or a bit of both? New species phenomenon in Sri Lanka as suggested by a phylogeny of dwarf geckos (Reptilia, Squamata, Gekkonidae, <i>Cnemaspis</i>)

<p>We evaluated the status of 16 of 22 recognized Sri Lankan <i>Cnemaspis</i> Strauch species, and flagged overlooked diversity with two mitochondrial (cyt <i>b</i> & ND2) and two nuclear markers (RAG1 & PDC) totalling 2829 base pairs. A fossil-calibrated timetree and sampling of other South Asian <i>Cnemaspis</i> provide insights into the diversification of the genus in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. Phylogenetic analyses consistently inferred two broad clades within South Asian <i>Cnemaspis</i>, with Sri Lankan species in two clades, which we call the <i>podihuna</i> and <i>kandiana</i> clades. Each Sri Lankan clade as a whole is sister to Indian taxa and nested within Indian lineages. <i>Cnemaspis modigliani</i> Das from Indonesia is a member of the <i>kandiana</i> clade. This suggests a minimum of two dispersal events between India and Sri Lanka and one between Sri Lanka/India and South-east Asia. South Asian <i>Cnemaspis</i> date back to at least the Eocene, in Sri Lanka to the early Miocene, with late Miocene diversification in the <i>kandiana</i> clade. All but one of the named species we sampled is likely to be valid, and 10 divergent unnamed lineages may warrant specific recognition. A resolution of Sri Lankan <i>Cnemaspis</i> taxonomy will require thorough sampling and the use of both morphological and molecular data.</p>