A Griffith University researcher has played a key role in the team that has discovered six new gecko species found widely across northern Australia.
One of the new species, named the plain tree gecko Gehyra gemina, is common on roadhouses and other buildings from Broome to the Queensland border, yet despite being widely found across northern Australia, the species was undescribed by science until now.
Environmental Futures Research Institute ecologist Dr Paul Oliver, who is also a Queensland Museum Senior Curator, said this species was one of six new species from the genus Gehyra.
“This gecko, at first glance can look a lot like a common Asian House Gecko and can sometimes be dismissed as such, but in actual fact it’s an Australian gecko and a new species,” Dr Oliver said.
“It has been hiding in plain sight this whole time and thanks to genetics we have been able to formally describe this species, along with five others.”
Dr Oliver said genetics were critical to identifying these new species.
“Genetics help us define species, particularly when many really do look very similar to each other – there are some that I can’t tell apart just by looking at them,” he said.
“New advances in genetics mean we can confidently say they really are not interbreeding, despite the fact that many look really similar.
“They may not look that different to us, but clearly they can tell each other apart.”
Queensland Museum CEO Dr Jim Thompson said research was central to species identification.
“Research such as this highlights the importance taxonomy plays in the field of science and understanding our biodiversity,” Dr Thompson said.
“There is still much to learn about biodiversity in our country and museums play an important role in describing and conserving our natural history in Australia.”
The paper with the new species was recently published in PeerJ.