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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)284-294
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
    Issue number5
    Early online date2020
    Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 1

    Subject classification (UKÄ)

    • Zoology

    Free keywords

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


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