In this thesis I have connected different evolutionary studies of Lioalemus lizards. In Chapter 1, I followed an integrative approach to delimit species in the Liolaemus walkeri complex. Using mitochondrial markers, morphological data, bioclimatic information and methods appropriate for each data type, we found that the name L. walkeri was covering three new lineages. Three new species were described and one of them (L. chavin) is now categorized as Near Threatened in the IUCN red list. In Chapter 2, I change the subject from species boundaries to the study of viviparity and placentation. In this paper we employed scanning electron and confocal microscopy to compare the placental ultra-structure and pattern of blood vessels in two Liolaemus species. One of the most remarkable traits found is the complete reduction of the eggshell in both placentae, a possible adaptation to improve gas exchange in the hypoxic environments of the high Andes. In chapter 3, I returned to the issue of species delimitation and employed two integrative approaches: a hypothetical deductive framework and a model-based procedure. I applied both approaches in lowland and highland Liolaemus species of the montanus group. I found that in only one case (of four) an unnamed lowland lineage ("Nazca") was delimited concordantly by both procedures. In Chapter 4, I focus on a study of convergent evolution of desert phenotype in Liolaemus species and Ctenoblepharys adspersa. I performed a Bayesian time calibrated and maximum likelihood tree based on 55 taxa and seven molecular markers. We employed quantitative and categorical traits based on 400 specimens and non-metric multidimensional scaling to obtain new quantitative variables. I used three phylogenetic comparative methods to identify and measure the strength of convergence. My results found a strong case of convergent traits in C. adspersa, L. lentus, L. manueli, L. poconchilensis and L. stolzmanni that are probably related to predator avoidance in the Peruvian-Atacama and Monte deserts. In addition, my time calibrated tree resolves the origin of these traits first in C. adspersa at about 80 million years (My) and later independently in Liolaemus species at about 25 My suggesting the present of evolutionary constraints.



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Life Sciences; Biology



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Liolaemus, lizards, species delimitation, placentation, convergence



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