Molecular phylogenetic diversity in the widespread lizard <i>Cercosaura ocellata</i> (Reptilia: Gymnophthalmidae) in South America

<p>For a long time, <i>Cercosaura ocellata</i> was considered polytypic, with three subspecies: <i>C. ocellata ocellata</i>, <i>C. ocellata petersi</i> and <i>C. ocellata bassleri</i>. Recently, <i>C. ocellata bassleri</i> was elevated to full species, based on analysis of a few molecular samples from Peru. This species complex is widely distributed in South America, occurring in Amazonia, Cerrado, Atlantic forest and Pampa biomes. The monophyly and species diversity of <i>C. ocellata</i> are still unstudied. Here, we infer phylogenetic relationships and species diversity of this group analysing 2326 base pairs of three mitochondrial (12S, 16S, and ND4) and one nuclear (<i>c-mos</i>) genes. Our taxon sampling of 115 specimens includes 72 samples of <i>C. ocellata</i> and sequences of other <i>Cercosaura</i> species and closely related Cercosaurinae. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic analysis recovered the monophyly of <i>Cercosaura</i> and that of <i>C. ocellata</i> with strong support. Our analyses suggest that <i>C. ocellata</i> is a complex of cryptic species, which possibly started diversifying in Amazonia.</p>