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


Feiner, N and Munch, KL and Jackson, ISC and Uller, T, Enhanced locomotor performance on familiar surfaces is uncoupled from morphological plasticity in Anolis lizards, Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A, 333, (5) pp. 284-294. ISSN 2471-5638 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2020 The Authors. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: doi:10.1002/jez.2349


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.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:behavior, limb morphology, lizards, locomotion, phenotypic integration, plasticity
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Munch, KL (Ms Kirke Munch)
ID Code:152830
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2022-08-25
Last Modified:2022-10-05

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