The evolution and diversity of the Anolis dewlap
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CitationHarrison, Alexis Stephania. 2014. The evolution and diversity of the Anolis dewlap. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThe neotropical lizard genus Anolis is an important model system for studies of the ecology and evolution of animal diversity. One of the most striking elements of Anolis diversity is found in the morphology of the dewlap, an extensible flap of colored skin on the throat that anoles use to communicate during social interactions. The evolutionary forces that have promoted the evolution of dewlap diversity are poorly understood. A study of reproductive success in A. carolinensis showed for the first time that dewlap color is currently under selection in an anole (Chapter 1). However, this is unlikely to be a result of intrasexual competition because neither dewlap morphology nor reproductive success are related to male territory size or quality. Instead the dewlap may be under intersexual selection from female mate choice. In addition to sexual selection, the dewlap may evolve in response to a variety of other processes such as species recognition, predation, sensory drive, or a combination of these. A study of variation among populations of a single species, A. sagrei, revealed that the dewlap may be undergoing rapid adaptive diversification driven by several of these processes simultaneously (Chapter 2), while a study of variation among species in dewlap size showed that similar processes are likely shaping the evolution of the dewlap in female anoles (Chapter 3). In a case study of male-female pair formation in the Costa Rican anole A. limifrons, dewlap size or color were not good predictors of which males would form pairs and which would not, though males and females that were similar in size were found to form pairs more often than animals that were dissimilar in size (Chapter 4). Finally, a study of the correlated evolution of traits related to locomotion in anoles found that morphology, behavior, and habitat use evolve in tandem among 31 species of anoles from the Greater Antilles (Chapter 5). Together, these studies suggest that the evolutionary ecology of anoles is more complex than previously thought, and that future studies of the dewlap may provide more general insight into the evolution of diversity of animal ornaments.
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