In my dissertation I investigate two genera of geckos (Cyrtodactylus and Cnemaspis) that are distributed across Southeast Asia with an emphasis on Cnemaspis. In Chapter 1 I use a multilocus dataset, ancestral area analyses, and molecular clock dating to generate a species level time calibrated phylogeny to test the monophyly of Cyrtodactylus and to identify major biogeographical patterns. I identified that Cyrtodactylus is monophyletic only if the the Sri Lankan genus often recognized as Geckoella is included. The results of the Biogeographical analyses reveal a west to east pattern of diversification. Chapter 2 I use a traditional morphological dataset to describe a new species of Cnemaspis from Peninsular Malaysia. In Chapter 3 my colleagues and I use a multilocus dataset and morphological characters to revise the taxonomy of all Cnemaspis species and put this in a phylogenetic context. This resulted in the description of eight new species and allowed us to generate hypotheses relating to parallel evolution, diversity, and biogeography. In Chapter 4 I use additional taxon sampling of Cnemaspis from Thailand to generate a more complete phylogeny and use an integrative taxonomic approach to describe three new species. In Chapter 5 I used high throughput sequencing of sequence capture and Ultra Conserved Elements to test for a rapid radiation in Cnemaspis and to investigate biogeographic hypotheses relating to the diversification and evolution of Cnemaspis. I determined that there was a temporal rapid radiation of Cnemaspis that coincides with the temporal diversification of other terrestrial vertebrates across Sundaland. The results of these studies indicate that the species diversity of Cnemaspis is underestimated and that both genera have experienced similar temporal and spatial diversification coinciding with major vicariant events during the Eocene and the Oligocene-Miocene transition.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Biology

Date Submitted


Document Type





biogeography, Cnemaspis, Cyrtodactylus, evolution, Southeast Asia, taxonomy, ultra conserved elements