Behavioral convergence and adaptive radiation: Effects of habitat use on territorial behavior in anolis lizards

Michele A. Johnson, Liam J. Revell, Jonathan B. Losos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Most studies of adaptive radiations focus on morphological aspects of differentiation, yet behavior is also an important component of evolutionary diversification, often mediating the relationship between animal ecology and morphology. In species within radiations that are convergent in ecology and morphology, we then also expect convergence in behavior. Here, we examined 13 Anolis lizard species to determine whether territorial strategies have evolved convergently with morphology and habitat use. We evaluated two aspects of territoriality: behavioral defense of space via territorial displays, and territory overlap within and between sexes. Controlling for the phylogenetic relationships of the taxa in our study, we found that species similar in perch height and diameter convergently evolved patterns of territory overlap, whereas species similar in habitat visibility (the proportion of space that can be seen from a perch) convergently evolved display behavior. We also found that species with greater display time have more extensive male-male territory overlap. This study provides strong evidence for the role of habitat in the evolution of territoriality and suggests that the social structure of a species ultimately evolves in concert with habitat use and morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1159
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Comparative method
  • Display rate
  • Ecomorph
  • Social organization
  • Territory overlap
  • Visibility


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