Recent years have seen an increased emphasis on measuring ecologically relevant performance capabilities to understand associations between morphology and habitat use. Such studies presume that performance is invariant, but in eight Caribbean Anolis lizard species, we found that maximal sprinting ability depends on surface diameter. Moreover, these species differ in the degree to which sprint speed declines with decreasing surface diameter, defined as "sprint sensitivity" (high sprint sensitivity=substantial declines in speed between broad and narrow dowels). The habitat constraint hypothesis postulates that Anolis lizards will avoid structural habitats in which their maximal sprinting capabilities are impaired. The habitat breadth hypothesis postulates that species whose performance is less affected by substrate will use a greater variety of habitats than species whose performance varies to a greater extent on surfaces of different diameters. Field observations quantified the proportion of time that lizards spent on different perch diameters. Both hypotheses were confirmed: species with high values of sprint sensitivity avoided using perches on which their maximal sprinting abilities are impaired, whereas species with low sprint sensitivity used such "submaximal" surfaces more frequently. Species with low sprint sensitivity used a broader range of structural habitats than species with high sprint sensitivity.
The vagaries of history lead to the prediction that repeated instances of evolutionary diversification will lead to disparate outcomes even if starting conditions are similar. We tested this proposition by examining the evolutionary radiation of Anolis lizards on the four islands of the Greater Antilles. Morphometric analyses indicate that the same set of habitat specialists, termed ecomorphs, occurs on all four islands. Although these similar assemblages could result from a single evolutionary origin of each ecomorph, followed by dispersal or vicariance, phylogenetic analysis indicates that the ecomorphs originated independently on each island. Thus, adaptive radiation in similar environments can overcome historical contingencies to produce strikingly similar evolutionary outcomes.
Lizard and spider populations were censused immediately before and after Hurricane Lili on islands differentially affected by the storm surge. The results support three general propositions. First, the larger organisms, lizards, are more resistant to the immediate impact of moderate disturbance, whereas the more prolific spiders recover faster. Second, extinction risk is related to population size when disturbance is moderate but not when it is catastrophic. Third, after catastrophic disturbance, the recovery rate among different types of organisms is related to dispersal ability. The absence of the poorer dispersers, lizards, from many suitable islands is probably the result of long-lasting effects of catastrophes.