Multivariate phenotypes and the potential for alternative phenotypic optima in wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) ventral colour morphs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A major goal in evolutionary biology is to determine how phenotypic variation arises and is maintained in natural populations. Recent studies examining the morphological, physiological and behavioural differences among discrete colour morphotypes (morphs) have revealed several mechanisms that maintain discrete variation within populations, including frequency-dependence, density-dependence and correlational selection. For example, trade-offs over resource allocation to morphological, physiological and behavioural traits can drive correlational selection for morph-specific phenotypic optima. Here, we describe a ventral colour polymorphism in the wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) and test the hypothesis that morphs differ along multivariate axes defined by trade-offs in morphological, physiological, and immunological traits. We show that ventral colour is a discrete trait and that morphs differ in body size, prevalence of infection by parasites and infection intensity. We also find that morphs differ along multivariate phenotypic axes and experience different multivariate selection pressures. Our results suggest that multivariate selection pressures may favour alternative optimal morph-specific phenotypes in P. muralis.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • polymorphism, colour signals, fitness optima, alternative strategies, selection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1138-1147
JournalJournal of evolutionary biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch