Overwater dispersal and subsequent allopatric speciation contribute importantly to the species diversity of West Indian Anolis lizards and many other island radiations. Here we use molecular phylogenetic analyses to assess the contribution of overwater dispersal to diversification of the Anolis carolinensis subgroup, a clade comprising nine canopy-dwelling species distributed across the northern Caribbean. Although this clade includes some of the most successful dispersers and colonists in the anole radiation, the taxonomic status and origin of many endemic populations have been ambiguous. New mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences from four species occurring on small islands or island banks (Anolis brunneus, Anolis longiceps, Anolis maynardi, Anolis smaragdinus) and one species from the continental United States (A. carolinensis) are presented and analysed with homologous sequences sampled from related species on Cuba (Anolis allisoni and Anolis porcatus). Our analyses confirm that all five non-Cuban species included in our study represent distinct, independently evolving lineages that warrant continued species recognition. Moreover, our results support Ernest Williams's hypothesis that all of these species originated by overseas colonization from Cuban source populations. However, contrary to Williams's hypothesis of Pleistocene dispersal, most colonization events leading to speciation apparently occurred earlier, in the late Miocene-Pliocene. These patterns suggest that overwater dispersal among geologically distinct islands and island banks is relatively infrequent in anoles and has contributed to allopatric speciation. Finally, our results suggest that large Greater Antillean islands serve as centres of origin for regional species diversity.
Convergent evolution has played an important role in the development of the ecological niche concept. We investigated patterns of convergent and divergent evolution of Caribbean Anolis lizards. These lizards diversified independently on each of the islands of the Greater Antilles, producing the same set of habitat specialists on each island. Using a phylogenetic comparative framework, we examined patterns of morphological convergence in five functionally distinct sets of morphological characters: body size, body shape, head shape, lamella number, and sexual size dimorphism. We find evidence for convergence among members of the habitat specialist types for each of these five datasets. Furthermore, the patterns of convergence differ among at least four of the five datasets; habitat specialists that are similar for one set of characters are often greatly different for another. This suggests that the habitat specialist niches into which these anoles have evolved are multidimensional, involving several distinct and independent aspects of morphology.
Population phenomena, which provide much of the underlying basis for the theoretical structure of island biogeography, have received little direct study. We determined a key population trait-survival-in the Bahamian lizard Anolis sagrei on islands with an experimentally introduced predatory lizard and on neighboring unmanipulated islands. On unmanipulated islands, survival declined with several variables, most notably vegetation height: The island with the shortest vegetation had nearly the highest survival recorded for any lizard. On islands with the introduced predator, which forages mostly on the ground, A. sagrei shifted to taller vegetation; unlike on unmanipulated islands, its survival was very low on islands with the shortest vegetation but was higher on the others. Thus, species introduction radically changed a resident species' relation of survival to a key island-biogeographical variable.
Comparative studies have increased greatly in number in recent years due to advances in statistical and phylogenetic methodologies. For these studies, a trade-off often exists between the number of species that can be included in any given study and the number of individuals examined per species. Here, we describe a simple simulation study examining the effect of intraspecific sample size on statistical error in comparative studies. We find that ignoring measurement error has no effect on type I error of nonphylogenetic analyses, but can lead to increased type I error under some circumstances when using independent contrasts. We suggest using ANOVA to evaluate the relative amounts of within- and between-species variation when considering a phylogenetic comparative study. If within-species variance is particularly large and intraspecific sample sizes small, then either larger sample sizes or comparative methods that account for measurement error are necessary.
A genetic paradox exists in invasion biology: how do introduced populations, whose genetic variation has probably been depleted by population bottlenecks, persist and adapt to new conditions? Lessons from conservation genetics show that reduced genetic variation due to genetic drift and founder effects limits the ability of a population to adapt, and small population size increases the risk of extinction. Nonetheless, many introduced species experiencing these same conditions during initial introductions persist, expand their ranges, evolve rapidly and become invasive. To address this issue, we studied the brown anole, a worldwide invasive lizard. Genetic analyses indicate that at least eight introductions have occurred in Florida from across this lizard's native range, blending genetic variation from different geographic source populations and producing populations that contain substantially more, not less, genetic variation than native populations. Moreover, recently introduced brown anole populations around the world originate from Florida, and some have maintained these elevated levels of genetic variation. Here we show that one key to invasion success may be the occurrence of multiple introductions that transform among-population variation in native ranges to within-population variation in introduced areas. Furthermore, these genetically variable populations may be particularly potent sources for introductions elsewhere. The growing problem of invasive species introductions brings considerable economic and biological costs. If these costs are to be mitigated, a greater understanding of the causes, progression and consequences of biological invasions is needed.
Sympatric speciation is often proposed to account for species-rich adaptive radiations within lakes or islands, where barriers to gene flow or dispersal may be lacking. However, allopatric speciation may also occur in such situations, especially when ranges are fragmented by fluctuating water levels. We test the hypothesis that Miocene fragmentation of Cuba into three palaeo-archipelagos accompanied species-level divergence in the adaptive radiation of West Indian Anolis lizards. Analysis of morphology, mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) and nuclear DNA in the Cuban green anoles (carolinensis subgroup) strongly supports three pre dictions made by this hypothesis. First, three geographical sets of populations, whose ranges correspond with palaeo-archipelago boundaries, are distinct and warrant recognition as independent evolutionary lineages or species. Coalescence of nuclear sequence fragments sampled from these species and the large divergences observed between their mtDNA haplotypes suggest separation prior to the subsequent unification of Cuba ca. 5 Myr ago. Second, molecular phylogenetic relationships among these species reflect historical geographical relationships rather than morphological similarity. Third, all three species remain distinct despite extensive geographical contact subsequent to island unification, occasional hybridization and introgression of mtDNA haplotypes. Allopatric speciation initiated during partial island submergence may play an important role in speciation during the adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards.
The role of behaviour in evolutionary change has long been debated. On the one hand, behavioural changes may expose individuals to new selective pressures by altering the way that organisms interact with the environment, thus driving evolutionary divergence. Alternatively, behaviour can act to retard evolutionary change: by altering behavioural patterns in the face of new environmental conditions, organisms can minimize exposure to new selective pressures. This constraining influence of behaviour has been put forward as an explanation for evolutionary stasis within lineages and niche conservatism within clades. Nonetheless, the hypothesis that behavioural change prevents natural selection from operating in new environments has never been experimentally tested. We conducted a controlled and replicated experimental study of selection in entirely natural populations; we demonstrate that lizards alter their habitat use in the presence of an introduced predator, but that these behavioural shifts do not prevent patterns of natural selection from changing in experimental populations.
Phenotypic differences among species are known to have functional consequences that in turn allow species to use different habitats. However, the role of behaviour in this ecomorphological paradigm is not well defined. We investigated the relationship between morphology, ecology and escape behaviour among 25 species of the lizard clade Liolaemus in a phylogenetic framework. We demonstrate that the relationship between morphology and characteristics of habitat structure shows little or no association, consistent with a previous study on this group. However, a significant relationship was found between morphology and escape behaviour with the distance a lizard moved from a potential predator correlated with body width, axilla-groin length, and pelvis width. A significant relationship between escape behaviour and habitat structure occupation was found; lizards that occupied tree trunks and open ground ran longer distances from predators and were found greater distances from shelter. Behavioural strategies used by these lizards in open habitats appear to have made unnecessary the evolution of limb morphology that has occurred in other lizards from other clades that are found in open settings. Understanding differences in patterns of ecomorphological relationships among clades is an important component for studying adaptive diversification.
Two recent hurricanes passed directly over the northern Bahamas 2 years apart, allowing a comparison of their effects on lizard populations inhabiting exactly the same islands. The hurricanes differed in two ways: one struck during the reproductive season and was relatively severe; the other struck after most reproduction had taken place and was milder. The late-season hurricane produced a significant relation between population reduction and lowness of the island that lasted at least through two seasons; the earlier hurricane produced no such relationship. The late-season hurricane wiped out populations of lizards on two islands (two of the three lowest) that the earlier hurricane failed to exterminate even though it was stronger. We relate these effects to the fact that the study lizards regenerated from the earlier hurricane only via the egg stage, whereas eggs were unavailable when the later storm struck and regeneration was via hatched lizards. We discriminate and illustrate four kinds of hurricanes, cross-classified by two contrasts: earlier vs. later and stronger vs. weaker. A later, stronger hurricane completely exterminated lizard populations at a second Bahamian site, whereas an earlier, weaker hurricane had no detectable effect at a third Bahamian site. We suggest that, in addition to severity, the timing of a hurricane as it coincides with reproductive scheduling or other phenological aspects may determine the magnitude of its effect on a variety of organisms.
Studies on the lizard, Anolis sagrei, revealed that after Hurricane Floyd devastated the Bahamas in 1999, some populations consisted only of hatchlings. Because the storm surge of the hurricane completely inundated these islands, apparently for up to 6 h, survival of anole eggs in salt water for such periods is implied. To test this hypothesis directly, we placed A. sagrei eggs in saltwater for 3 or 6 h with unimmersed eggs serving as the control. Hatching success and incubation time did not differ among the three treatments. These findings help explain the persistence of anole populations on small islands vulnerable to hurricanes.
Niche conservatism--the tendency for closely related species to be ecologically similar--is widespread. However, most studies compare closely related taxa that occur in allopatry; in sympatry, the stabilizing forces that promote niche conservatism, and thus inhibit niche shifts, may be countered by natural selection favouring ecological divergence to minimize the intensity of interspecific interactions. Consequently, the relative importance of niche conservatism versus niche divergence in determining community structure has received little attention. Here, we examine a tropical lizard community in which species have a long evolutionary history of ecological interaction. We find that evolutionary divergence overcomes niche conservatism: closely related species are no more ecologically similar than expected by random divergence and some distantly related species are ecologically similar, leading to a community in which the relationship between ecological similarity and phylogenetic relatedness is very weak. Despite this lack of niche conservatism, the ecological structuring of the community has a phylogenetic component: niche complementarity only occurs among distantly related species, which suggests that the strength of ecological interactions among species may be related to phylogeny, but it is not necessarily the most closely related species that interact most strongly.
Identification of general properties of evolutionary radiations has been hindered by the lack of a general statistical and phylogenetic approach applicable across diverse taxa. We present a comparative analytical framework for examining phylogenetic patterns of diversification and morphological disparity with data from four iguanian-lizard taxa that exhibit substantially different patterns of evolution. Taxa whose diversification occurred disproportionately early in their evolutionary history partition more of their morphological disparity among, rather than within, subclades. This inverse relationship between timing of diversification and morphological disparity within subclades may be a general feature that transcends the historically contingent properties of different evolutionary radiations.