Conservation and Convergence of Genetic Architecture in the Adaptive Radiation of Anolis Lizards

Joel W. McGlothlin, Megan E. Kobiela, Helen V. Wright, Jason J. Kolbe, Jonathan B. Losos, Edmund D. Brodie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The G matrix, which quantifies the genetic architecture of traits, is often viewed as an evolutionary constraint. However, G can evolve in response to selection and may also be viewed as a product of adaptive evolution. Convergent evolution of G in similar environments would suggest that G evolves adaptively, but it is difficult to disentangle such effects from phylogeny. Here, we use the adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards to ask whether convergence of G accompanies the repeated evolution of habitat specialists, or eco-morphs, across the Greater Antilles. We measured G in seven species representing three ecomorphs (trunk-crown, trunk-ground, and grass-bush). We found that the overall structure of G does not converge. Instead, the structure of G is well conserved and displays a phylogenetic signal consistent with Brownian motion. However, several elements of G showed signatures of convergence, indicating that some aspects of genetic architecture have been shaped by selection. Most notably, genetic correlations between limb traits and body traits were weaker in long-legged trunk-ground species, suggesting effects of recurrent selection on limb length. Our results demonstrate that common selection pressures may have subtle but consistent effects on the evolution of G, even as its overall structure remains conserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E207-E220
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • adaptive radiation
  • Anolis lizards
  • constraint
  • G matrix
  • genetic correlation
  • quantitative genetics


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