The phylogenetic relationships among populations of the fossorial California legless lizard, Anniella pulchra, were examined by sequencing a 990-bp region of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The mitochondrial DNA gene tree was then compared with the geographic distributions of two currently recognized subspecies: A. p. nigra, a melanic form restricted to two disjunct coastal populations, and A. p. pulchra, a more widely distributed, silvery form. We tested the null hypothesis that all A. p. nigra form a clade that is monophyletic with respect to A. p. pulchra. Our results strongly reject the monophyletic origin of the melanic forms and suggest that the two populations of the nominal subspecies A. p. nigra may have arisen independently from different ancestral populations in a parallel evolutionary response to selection in cool, coastal habitats.
Corresponding Editor: J. Losos