We analysed the diversification of squamate reptiles (7488 species) based on a new molecular phylogeny, and compared the results to similar estimates for passerine birds (5712 species). The number of species in each of 36 squamate lineages showed no evidence of phylogenetic conservatism. Compared with a random speciation-extinction process with parameters estimated from the size distribution of clades, the alethinophidian snakes (2600 species) were larger than expected and 13 clades, each having fewer than 20 species, were smaller than expected, indicating rate heterogeneity. From a lineage-through-time plot, we estimated that a provisional rate of lineage extinction (0.66 per Myr) was 94% of the rate of lineage splitting (0.70 per Myr). Diversification in squamate lineages was independent of their stem age, but strongly related to the area of the region within which they occur. Tropical vs. temperate latitude exerted a marginally significant influence on species richness. In comparison with passerine birds, squamates share several clade features, including: (1) independence of species richness and age; (2) lack of phylogenetic signal with respect to clade size; (3) general absence of exceptionally large clades; (4) over-representation of small clades; (5) influence of region size on clade size; and (6) similar rates of speciation and extinction. The evidence for both groups suggests that clade size has achieved long-term equilibrium, suggesting negative feedback of species richness on the rate of diversification.
Sexual dimorphism is widespread and substantial throughout the animal world. It is surprising, then, that such a pervasive source of biological diversity has not been integrated into studies of adaptive radiation, despite extensive and growing attention to both phenomena. Rather, most studies of adaptive radiation either group individuals without regard to sex or focus solely on one sex. Here we show that sexual differences contribute substantially to the ecomorphological diversity produced by the adaptive radiations of West Indian Anolis lizards: within anole species, males and females occupy mostly non-overlapping parts of morphological space; the overall extent of sexual variation is large relative to interspecific variation; and the degree of variation depends on ecological type. Thus, when sexual dimorphism in ecologically relevant traits is substantial, ignoring its contribution may significantly underestimate the adaptive component of evolutionary radiation. Conversely, if sexual dimorphism and interspecific divergence are alternative means of ecological diversification, then the degree of sexual dimorphism may be negatively related to the extent of adaptive radiation.
Invasive species are classically thought to suffer from reduced within-population genetic variation compared to their native-range sources due to founder effects and population bottlenecks during introduction. Reduction in genetic variation in introduced species may limit population growth, increase the risk of extinction, and constrain adaptation, hindering the successful establishment and spread of an alien species. Results of recent empirical studies, however, show higher than expected genetic variation, rapid evolution, and multiple native-range sources in introduced populations, which challenge the classical scenario of invasive-species genetics. With mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence data, we examined the molecular genetics of 10 replicate introductions of 8 species of Anolis lizards. Eighty percent of introductions to Florida and the Dominican Republic were from multiple native-range source populations. MtDNA haplotypes restricted to different geographically distinct populations in the native range of a species commonly occurred as intrapopulation polymorphisms in introduced populations. Two-thirds of introduced populations had two or more sources, and admixture elevated genetic variation in half of the introduced populations above levels typical of native-range populations. The mean pairwise sequence divergence among haplotypes sampled within introduced populations was nearly twice that within native-range populations (2.6% vs. 1.4%). The dynamics of introductions from multiple sources and admixture explained the observed genetic contrasts between native and introduced Anolis populations better than the classical scenario for most introduced populations. Elevated genetic variation through admixture occurred regardless of the mode or circumstances of an introduction. Little insight into the number of sources or amount of genetic variation in introduced populations was gained by knowing the number of physical introductions, the size of a species' non-native range, or whether it was a deliberate or accidental introduction. We hypothesize that elevated genetic variation through admixture of multiple sources is more common in biological invasions than previously thought. We propose that introductions follow a sequential, two-step process involving a reduction in genetic variation due to founder effects and population bottlenecks followed by an increase in genetic variation if admixture of individuals from multiple native-range sources occurs.
Phenotypic similarity of species occupying similar habitats has long been taken as strong evidence of adaptation, but this approach implicitly assumes that similarity is evolutionarily derived. However, even derived similarities may not represent convergent adaptation if the similarities did not evolve as a result of the same selection pressures; an alternative possibility is that the similar features evolved for different reasons, but subsequently allowed the species to occupy the same habitat, in which case the convergent evolution of the same feature by species occupying similar habitats would be the result of exaptation. Many lizard lineages have evolved to occupy vertical rock surfaces, a habitat that places strong functional and ecological demands on lizards. We examined four clades in which species that use vertical rock surfaces exhibit long hindlimbs and flattened bodies. Morphological change on the phylogenetic branches leading to the rock-dwelling species in the four clades differed from change on other branches of the phylogeny; evolutionary transitions to rock-dwelling generally were associated with increases in limb length and decreases in head depth. Examination of particular characters revealed several different patterns of evolutionary change. Rock-dwelling lizards exhibited similarities in head depth as a result of both adaptation and exaptation. Moreover, even though rock-dwelling species generally had longer limbs than their close relatives, clade-level differences in limb length led to an overall lack of difference between rock- and non-rock-dwelling lizards. These results indicate that evolutionary change in the same direction in independent lineages does not necessarily produce convergence, and that the existence of similar advantageous structures among species independently occupying the same environment may not indicate adaptation.
The biological invasion of the lizard Anolis sagrei provides an opportunity to study evolutionary mechanisms that produce morphological differentiation among non-native populations. Because the A. sagrei invasion represents multiple native-range source populations, differential admixture as well as random genetic drift and natural selection, could shape morphological evolution during the invasion. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses reveal seven distinct native-range source populations for 10 introduced A. sagrei populations from Florida, Louisiana and Texas (USA), and Grand Cayman, with 2-5 native-range sources contributing to each non-native population. These introduced populations differ significantly in frequencies of haplotypes from different native-range sources and in body size, toepad-lamella number, and body shape. Variation among introduced populations for both lamella number and body shape is explained by differential admixture of various source populations; mean morphological values of introduced populations are correlated with the relative genetic contributions from different native-range source populations. The number of source populations contributing to an introduced population correlates with body size, which appears independent of the relative contributions of particular source populations. Thus, differential admixture of various native-range source populations explains morphological differences among introduced A. sagrei populations. Morphological differentiation among populations is compatible with the hypothesis of selective neutrality, although we are unable to test the hypothesis of interdemic selection among introductions from different native-range source populations.
BACKGROUND: The dewlaps of Anolis lizards provide a classic example of a complex signaling system whose function and evolution is poorly understood. Dewlaps are flaps of skin beneath the chin that are extended and combined with head and body movements for visual signals and displays. They exhibit extensive morphological variation and are one of two cladistic features uniting anoles, yet little is known regarding their function and evolution. We quantified the diversity of anole dewlaps, investigated whether dewlap morphology was informative regarding phylogenetic relationships, and tested two separate hypotheses: (A) similar Anolis habitat specialists possess similar dewlap configurations (Ecomorph Convergence hypothesis), and (B) sympatric species differ in their dewlap morphologies to a greater extent than expected by chance (Species Recognition hypothesis). METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We found that dewlap configurations (sizes, patterns and colors) exhibit substantial diversity, but that most are easily categorized into six patterns that incorporate one to three of 13 recognizable colors. Dewlap morphology is not phylogenetically informative and, like other features of anoles, exhibits convergence in configurations. We found no support for the Ecomorph Convergence hypothesis; species using the same structural habitat were no more similar in dewlap configuration than expected by chance. With one exception, all sympatric species in four communities differ in dewlap configuration. However, this provides only weak support for the Species Recognition hypothesis because, due to the great diversity in dewlap configurations observed across each island, few cases of sympatric species with identical dewlaps would be expected to co-occur by chance alone. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Despite previous thought, most dewlaps exhibit easily characterizable patterns and colorations. Nevertheless, dewlap variation is extensive and explanations for the origin and evolution of this diversity are lacking. Our data do not support two hypothesized explanations for this diversity, but others such as sexual selection remain to be tested.
As the environment changes, will species be able to adapt? By conducting experiments in natural environments, biologists can study how evolutionary processes such as natural selection operate through time. We predicted that the introduction of a terrestrial predator would first select for longer-legged lizards, which are faster, but as the lizards shifted onto high twigs to avoid the predator, selection would reverse toward favoring the shorter-legged individuals better able to locomote there. Our experimental studies on 12 islets confirmed these predictions within a single generation, thus demonstrating the rapidity with which evolutionary forces can change during times of environmental flux.
Evolutionary ecologists have long debated the extent to which communities in similar environments but different geographic regions exhibit convergence. On the one hand, if species' adaptations and community structure are determined by environmental features, convergence would be expected. However, if historical contingencies have long-lasting effects convergence would be unlikely. Most studies to date have emphasized the differences between communities in similar environments and little quantitative evidence for convergence exists. The application of comparative phylogenetic methods to ecological studies provides an opportunity to further investigate hypotheses of convergence. We compared the evolutionary patterns of structural ecology and morphology of 42 species of iguanian lizards from deserts of Australia and North America. Using a comparative approach, we found that evolutionary convergence of ecology and morphology occurs both in overall, community-wide patterns and in terms of pairs of highly similar intercontinental pairs of species. This result indicates that in these desert lizards, deterministic adaptive evolution shapes community patterns and overrides the historical contingencies unique to particular lineages.
Recent advances in ecological niche modeling (ENM) algorithms, in conjunction with increasing availability of geographic information system (GIS) data, allow species' niches to be predicted over broad geographic areas using environmental characteristics associated with point localities for a given species. Consequently, the examination of how niches evolve is now possible using a regionally inclusive multivariate approach to characterize the environmental requirements of a species. Initial work that uses this approach has suggested that niche evolution is characterized by conservatism: the more closely related species are, the more similar are their niches. We applied a phylogenetic approach to examine niche evolution during the radiation of Cuban trunk-ground anoles (Anolis sagrei group), which has produced 15 species in Cuba. We modeled the niche of 11 species within this group using the WhyWhere ENM algorithm and examined the evolution of the niche using a phylogeny based on approximately 1500 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA. No general relationship exists between phylogenetic similarity and niche similarity. Examination of species pairs indicates some examples in which closely related species display niche conservatism and some in which they exhibit highly divergent niches. In addition, some distantly related species exhibit significant niche similarity. Comparisons also revealed a specialist-generalist sister species pair in which the niche of one species is nested within, and much narrower than, the niche of another closely related species.
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.