The study of adaptive radiations has played a fundamental role in understanding mechanisms of evolution. A recent resurgence in the study of adaptive radiations highlights a gap in our knowledge about determining whether a clade constitutes adaptive diversification. Specifically, no objective criteria exist to judge whether a clade constitutes an adaptive radiation. Most clades, given enough time, will diversify adaptively to some extent; therefore, we argue that the term "adaptive radiation" should be reserved for those clades that are exceptionally diverse in terms of the range of habitats occupied and attendant morphological adaptations. Making such a definition operational, however, requires a comparative analysis of many clades. Only by comparing clades can one distinguish those that are exceptionally diverse (or nondiverse) from those exhibiting a normal degree of adaptive disparity. We propose such a test, focusing on disparity in the ecological morphology of monophyletic groups within the lizard family Iguanidae. We find that two clades, the Polychrotinae and Phrynosomatinae, are exceptionally diverse and that two others, the Crotaphytinae and Oplurinae, are exceptionally nondiverse. Potential explanations for differences in diversity are discussed, as are caveats and future extensions of our approach.
We report the results of phylogenetic analyses of 1447 bases of mitochondrial DNA sequence for 21 populations representing seven species of the Anolis grahami series (A. conspersus, A. garmani, A. grahami, A. lineatopus, A. opalinus, A. reconditus, and A. valencienni), six of which occur on Jamaica. These data include 705 characters that are phylogenetically informative according to parsimony. A parsimony analysis of these data combined with previously published allozymic data yields a single most parsimonious tree with strong support for monophyly of the A. grahami series, the sister-group relationship between Anolis lineatopus and A. reconditus and a clade composed of Anolis garmani, A. grahami, and A. opalinus. Based on DNA data alone, A. conspersus is nested within A. grahami. Haplotypes sampled from geographic populations of A. grahami, A. lineatopus, and A. opalinus are highly divergent (approximately 12-15% sequence difference on average for each species) and show similar phylogeographic patterns, suggesting that each of these currently recognized species may be a complex of species. Anolis valencienni also shows high sequence divergence among haplotypes from different geographic populations (approximately 8% sequence difference) and may contain cryptic species. Divergence among haplotypes within A. garmani is substantially lower (approximately 3% sequence difference), and phylogeographic patterns are significantly different from those observed in A. grahami, A. lineatopus and A. opalinus.
Why convergent evolution occurs among some species occupying similar habitats but not among others is a question that has received surprisingly little attention. Caribbean Anolis lizards, known for their extensive convergent evolution among islands in the Greater Antilles, are an appropriate group with which to address this question. Despite the well-documented pattern of between-island convergence, some Greater Antillean anoles are not obviously part of the convergence syndrome. One example involves aquatic anoles--species that are found near to and readily enter streams-which have evolved independently twice in the Caribbean and also twice on mainland Central America. Despite being found in similar habitats, no previous study has investigated whether aquatic anoles represent yet another case of morphological convergence. We tested this hypothesis by collecting morphological data for seven aquatic anole species and 29 species from the six convergent types of Greater Antillean habitat specialists. We failed to find evidence for morphological convergence: the two Caribbean aquatic species are greatly dissimilar to each other and to the Central American species, which, however, may be convergent upon each other. We suggest two possible reasons for this lack of convergence in an otherwise highly convergent system: either there is more than one habitat type occupied by anoles in the proximity of water, or there is more than one way to adapt to a single aquatic habitat. We estimate that almost all of the 113 species of Greater Antillean anoles occupy habitats that are also used by distantly related species, but only 15% of these species are not morphologically similar to their distantly related ecological counterparts. Comparative data from other taxa would help enlighten the question of why the extent of convergence is so great in some lineages and not in others.
We document the decimation and recovery of the commonest lizard species, Anolis sagrei, on 66 islands in the Bahamas that were directly hit by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. Before the hurricane, an island's area was a better predictor of the occurrence of A. sagrei than was its altitude. Immediately after, altitude was a better predictor: Apparently all lizards on islands lower than about 3 meters maximum elevation perished in the storm surge. After about 1 year, area again became the better predictor. By 19 months after the hurricane, A. sagrei populations occurred on 88% of the islands they formerly occupied. Recovery occurred via overwater colonization and propagation from eggs that survived inundation, mechanisms that were enhanced by larger island area. Thus, natural processes first destroyed and then quickly restored a highly regular species-area distribution.
There has been considerable research on both top-down effects and on disturbances in ecological communities; however, the interaction between the two, when the disturbance is catastrophic, has rarely been examined. Predators may increase the probability of prey extinction resulting from a catastrophic disturbance both by reducing prey population size and by changing ecological traits of prey individuals such as habitat characteristics in a way that increases the vulnerability of prey species to extinction. We show that a major hurricane in the Bahamas led to the extinction of lizard populations on most islands onto which a predator had been experimentally introduced, whereas no populations became extinct on control islands. Before the hurricane, the predator had reduced prey populations to about half of those on control islands. Two months after the hurricane, we found only recently hatched individuals--apparently lizards survived the inundating storm surge only as eggs. On predator-introduction islands, those hatchling populations were a smaller fraction of pre-hurricane populations than on control islands. Egg survival allowed rapid recovery of prey populations to pre-hurricane levels on all control islands but on only a third of predator-introduction islands--the other two-thirds lost their prey populations. Thus climatic disturbance compounded by predation brought prey populations to extinction.
Populations of the lizards Anolis carolinensis and A. sagrei were experimentally introduced onto small islands in the Bahamas. Less than 15 years after introduction, we investigated whether the populations had diverged and, if so, whether differentiation was related to island vegetational characteristics or propagule size. No effect of founding population size was evident, but differentiation of A. sagrei appears to have been adaptive, a direct relationship existed between how vegetationally different an experimental island was from the source island and how much the experimental population on that island had diverged morphologically. Populations of A. carolinensis had also diverged, but were too few for quantitative comparisons. A parallel exists between the divergence of experimental populations of A. sagrei and the adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards in the Greater Antilles; in both cases, relative hindlimb length and perch diameter are strongly correlated. This differentiation could have resulted from genetic change or environmentally-driven phenotypic plasticity. Laboratory studies on A. sagrei from a population in Florida indicate that hindlimb length exhibits adaptive phenotypic plasticity. Further studies are required to determine if the observed differences among the experimental populations are the result of such plasticity. Regardless of whether the differences result from plasticity, genetic change, or both, the observation that anole populations differentiate rapidly and adaptively when exposed to novel environmental conditions has important implications for understanding the adaptive radiation of Caribbean anoles.
Species of Anolis lizards that use broad substrates have long legs, which provide enhanced maximal sprint speed, whereas species that use narrow surfaces have short legs, which permit careful movements. We raised hatchling A. sagrei in terraria provided with only broad or only narrow surfaces. At the end of the experiment, lizards in the broad treatment had relatively longer hindlimbs than lizards in the narrow treatment. These results indicate that not only is hindlimb length a plastic trait in these lizards, but that this plasticity leads to the production of phenotypes appropriate to particular environments. Comparison to hindlimb lengths of other Anolis species indicates that the range of plasticity is limited compared to the diversity shown throughout the anole radiation. Nonetheless, this plasticity potentially could have played an important role in the early stages of the Caribbean anole radiation.
Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is the evolutionary result of selection operating differently on the body sizes of males and females. Anolis lizard species of the Greater Antilles have been classified into ecomorph classes, largely on the basis of their structural habitat (perch height and diameter). We show that the major ecomorph classes differ in degree of SSD. At least two SSD classes are supported: high SSD (trunk-crown, trunk-ground) and low SSD (trunk, crown-giant, grass-bush, twig). Differences cannot be attributed to an allometric increase of SSD with body size or to a phylogenetic effect. A third explanation, that selective pressures on male and/or female body size vary among habitat types, is examined by evaluating expectations from the major relevant kinds of selective pressures. Although no one kind of selective pressure produces expectations consistent with all of the information, competition with respect to structural habitat and sexual selection pressures are more likely possibilities than competition with respect to prey size or optimal feeding pressures. The existence of habitat-specific sexual dimorphism suggests that adaptation of Anolis species to their environment is more complex than previously appreciated.
Large islands typically have more species than comparable smaller islands. Ecological theories, the most influential being the equilibrium theory of island biogeography, explain the species-area relationship as the outcome of the effect of area on immigration and extinction rates. However, these theories do not apply to taxa on land masses, including continents and large islands, that generate most of their species in situ. In this case, species-area relationships should be driven by higher speciation rates in larger areas, a theory that has never been quantitatively tested. Here we show that Anolis lizards on Caribbean islands meet several expectations of the evolutionary theory. Within-island speciation exceeds immigration as a source of new species on all islands larger than 3,000 km2, whereas speciation is rare on smaller islands. Above this threshold island size, the rate of species proliferation increases with island area, a process that results principally from the positive effects of area on speciation rate. Also as expected, the slope of the species-area relationship jumps sharply above the threshold. Although Anolis lizards have been present on large Caribbean islands for over 30 million years, there are indications that the current number of species still falls below the speciation-extinction equilibrium.