Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Phylogeographic histories of representative herpetofauna of the southwestern U.S.: mitochondrial DNA variation in the desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) and the chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus)


To determine whether genetic variation in representative reptiles of the southwestern U.S. may have been similarly molded by the geologic history of the lower Colorado River, we examined restriction site polymorphisms in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of desert iguanas (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) and chuckwallas (Sauromalus obesus). Observed phylogeographic structure in these lizards was compared to that reported for the desert tortoise (Xerobates agassizi), whose mtDNA phylogeny demonstrates a striking genetic break at the Colorado River. Both the desert iguana and chuckwalla exhibit extensive mtDNA polymorphism, with respective genotypic diversities G = 0.963 and 0.983, close to the maximum possible value of 1.0. Individual mtDNA clones, as well as clonal assemblages defined by specific levels of genetic divergence, showed pronounced geographic localization. Nonetheless, for each species the distributions of certain clones and most major clonal groupings encompass both sides of the Colorado River valley, and hence are clearly incongruent with the phylogeographic pattern of the desert tortoise. Overall, available molecular evidence provides no indication that the intraspecific phylogenies of the southwestern U.S. herpetofauna have been concordantly shaped by a singular vicariant factor of overriding significance. Copyright © 1992, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View