Examples of convergent evolution suggest that natural selection can often produce predictable evolutionary outcomes. However, unique histories among species can lead to divergent evolution regardless of their shared selective pressures-and some contend that such historical contingencies produce the dominant features of evolution. A classic example of convergent evolution is the set of Anolis lizard ecomorphs of the Greater Antilles. On each of four islands, anole species partition the structural habitat into at least four categories, exhibiting similar morphologies within each category. We assessed the relative importance of shared selection due to habitat similarity, unique island histories, and unique effects of similar habitats on different islands in the generation of morphological variation in anole ecomorphs. We found that shared features of diversification across habitats were of greatest importance, but island effects on morphology (reflecting either island effects per se or phylogenetic relationships) and unique aspects of habitat diversification on different islands were also important. There were three distinct cases of island-specific habitat diversification, and only one was confounded by phylogenetic relatedness. The other two unique aspects were not related to shared ancestry but might reflect as-yet-unmeasured environmental differences between islands in habitat characteristics. Quantifying the relative importance of shared and unique responses to similar selective regimes provides a more complete understanding of phenotypic diversification, even in this much-studied system.
Langerhans, R BrianKnouft, Jason HLosos, Jonathan BengResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.2006/04/14 09:00Evolution. 2006 Feb;60(2):362-9.