African lizards in the genus Agama are exceptionally diverse, and are among the most abundant and widespread terrestrial vertebrates in Africa. This makes them an ideal group for testing biogeographic hypotheses and conducting comparative ecological and evolutionary studies. Two major studies are underway:
Diversification and biogeography – The evolution of extreme sexual dimorphisms in Agama, including extravagant adult male breeding coloration, large male body sizes relative to females, and variability in social systems, suggests that these traits may have had a profound impact on lineage diversification. This is one of the hypotheses that we’re testing with a comprehensive time-calibrated species tree with anchored phylogenomic data from 215 nuclear genes.
Bayesian phylogeography – The massive distribution of the Agama agama species complex across sub-Saharan Africa makes this group particularly interesting from a phylogeographic perspective. We’re investigating the history of population divergence in this clade using new Bayesian phylogeographic inference techniques.