A central issue in evolutionary biology is how morphology, performance, and habitat use coevolve. If morphological variation is tightly associated with habitat use, then differences in morphology should affect fitness through their effect on performance within specific habitats. In this study, we investigate how evolutionary forces mold morphological traits and performance differently given the surrounding environment, at the intraspecific level. For this purpose, we selected populations of the lizard Podarcis bocagei from two different habitat types, agricultural walls and dunes, which we expected to reflect saxicolous vs ground-dwelling habits. In the laboratory, we recorded morphological traits as well as performance traits by measuring sprint speed, climbing capacity, maneuverability, and bite force. Our results revealed fast-evolving ecomorphological variation among populations of P. bocagei, where a direct association existed between head morphology and bite performance. However, we could not establish links between limb morphology and locomotor performance at the individual level. Lizards from walls were better climbers than those from dunes, suggesting a very fast evolutionary response. Interestingly, a significant interaction between habitat and sex was detected in climbing performance. In addition, lizards from dunes bit harder than those from walls, although sexual differentiation was definitely the main factor driving variation in head functional morphology. Taking into account all the results, we found a complex interaction between natural and sexual selection on whole-organism performance, which are, in some cases, reflected in morphological variation.
Naturwissenschaften – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 2, 2018
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