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The Giant Pacific Geckos of the Genus Gehyra: Morphological Variation, Distribution, and Biogeography

William N. Beckon
Copeia
Vol. 1992, No. 2 (May 1, 1992), pp. 443-460
DOI: 10.2307/1446204
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1446204
Page Count: 18
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The Giant Pacific Geckos of the Genus Gehyra: Morphological Variation, Distribution, and Biogeography
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Abstract

The grounds for the synonymization of Gehyra vorax and G. oceanica are critically reassessed on the basis of external morphological measurements made on specimens from throughout the known ranges of these geckos. Ample justification is found for distinguishing the two species. In addition, three morphologically distinct forms are recognized within each species. The closely related Moluccan gecko, G. marginata, is provisionally treated as a fourth form of G. vorax. The distribution of the forms of G. oceanica may provide some evidence of patterns of prehistoric human immigration and commerce in the Pacific, because this species evidently was occasionally transported inadvertently aboard the sailing craft of early Pacific settlers. Gehyra vorax is generally more wary of humans and, therefore, was probably less frequently transported in this manner. Thus, its distribution may reflect more ancient patterns of human traffic. Alternatively it may have colonized Melanesia unassisted by such transport within the last 6-8 million years.

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