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Enhanced locomotor performance on familiar surfaces is uncoupled from morphological plasticity in Anolis lizards

  • Nathalie Feiner
  • Kirke L. Munch
  • Illiam S.C. Jackson
  • Tobias Uller
Publishing year: 2020
Language: English
Publication/Series: Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Abstract english

The radiation of Anolis lizards in the Caribbean is associated with a diversification of the functional match between morphology, habitat use, and locomotor performance. It has been hypothesized that the microhabitat a lizard is reared in can achieve a similar fit of form and function within a species. This predicts that plasticity in the locomotor apparatus is accompanied by changes in perching behavior or improved locomotor performance. To test this, we raised juveniles of two species (Anolis sagrei and Anolis carolinensis) on either broad or narrow surfaces and examined perching behavior and locomotor performance as well as the shape of the pectoral and pelvic girdles, limb length, and thickness of the long bones. Perching behavior was not affected by the habitat surface experienced during ontogeny. However, individuals raised on broad surfaces showed better locomotor performance on broad surfaces, and the magnitude of the effect was as large as the difference between the two species. Both species showed modifications of pectoral and pelvic shape, but only A. carolinensis developed longer limbs on broad surfaces. However, these morphological adjustments induced by physical activity did not explain why lizards raised on broad surfaces performed better. Thus, it appears that early-life experiences can affect both the morphology of the locomotor apparatus and locomotor performance in Anolis lizards, without the two being functionally connected.


  • Zoology
  • behavior
  • limb morphology
  • lizards
  • locomotion
  • phenotypic integration
  • plasticity


  • ISSN: 2471-5638