Evol Ecol Res 16: 663-687 (2015)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Geographic variation in lizard hind-limb morphology in relation to predation:
no evidence for an evolutionary basis

Patrick A. Bula, Laura K. Wright and Peter A. Zani*

Department of Biology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, USA

Correspondence: P.A. Zani, Department of Biology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI 54481, USA.
e-mail: pzani@uwsp.edu

ABSTRACT

Question: Do populations of side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) have longer hind limbs when exposed to greater potential predation? If so, is the pattern due to evolved responses among populations?

Methods: We measured hind-limb lengths of male side-blotched lizards as well as abundance and composition of several predator types (other lizards, snakes, and birds) from 22 wild populations in Oregon, Nevada, and Washington states.

Findings: Variation in the length of the distal limb elements (pes and fourth toe) is associated with the abundance and diversity (number) of predatory lizard species in the environment. Specifically, the hind limbs of side-blotched lizards in the wild are longer at sites with more predatory lizards. However, lizards reared in a common laboratory environment do not exhibit these patterns in limb variation.

Conclusions: The association between limb dimensions and predation in the wild does not appear to be due to evolved differences among populations.

Keywords: ecomorphology, morphometrics, phenotypic plasticity, predator type, Uta stansburiana.

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