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.