Lessons from Australian Rainbow skinks: cryptic diversity, gene flow and sympatry in species with different climatic niches


Demographic responses of species to past climate change can inform us about their adaptive capacity, especially if we consider species that co-occur but have different ecological niches. Hence, using exon-capture data of two closely related Rainbow skink species, I investigated lineage boundaries within broadly sympatric species and then assessed their demographic patterns.

With this work, I found two new cryptic lineages that I later described as new species, which occur mostly in the Kimberley (Western Australia), a region where numerous cryptic species are currently being identified.

The study of currently geographically sympatric species can be used to infer current hybridization or past introgression events. I investigated this between different lineages from six sympatric species that co-occur in either the Kimberley or Top End, using several methods including the ABBA/BABA statistical test. Preliminary results seem to support absence of current hybridization but possible historical introgression between some of the Australian Monsoon Tropics Rainbow skinks.

I will demonstrate why the Rainbow skink genus provides a unique nonmodel system to explore both niche evolution and geographic mode of speciation.

Date & time

3.30–4pm 28 April 2017


Gould Seminar Room (Rm 235), Bldg 116, Gould Building, Daley Road, ANU


Ana Silva, Moritz Group, E&E, RSB


 Audra Johnstone
 6125 2866

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