Meeting Abstract

66.4  Friday, Jan. 6  The developmental basis of an adaptive radiation: the evolution of limb diversity in Anolis lizards INFANTE, CR*; LOSOS, JB; MENKE, DM; University of Georgia; Harvard University; University of Georgia

The lizard genus Anolis comprises over 300 described species and has undergone an extraordinary radiation on the islands of the Greater Antilles. On each of these islands, species of Anolis can be categorized into sets of habitat specialists or “ecomorphs”, defined by similarities in morphology, behavior, and ecology. Phylogenetic analyses support the independent evolution of these specialists on each island, and not the single origin of a specialist type followed by dispersal. Therefore, the diversification of Anolis lizards on the islands represents at least four independent ecomorph radiations, creating natural replicates for the study of the evolution of morphology and the developmental process. To investigate the developmental component of this radiation, we are establishing tools and techniques for studying limb morphogenesis in Anolis. The goal of this research is to identify the genetic basis of the divergence in limb morphology. By using a comparative approach, this research tests whether shared or unique developmental mechanisms underlie the repeated evolution of similar ecomorph morphologies. Additionally, it will enhance our knowledge of the evolution of limb development among tetrapods by providing an additional phylogenetic data point.