Evolution of dorsal pattern variation in Greater Antillean Anolis lizards

Iliana Medina, Jonathan B. Losos, D. Luke Mahler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dorsal patterning in animals can serve as an antipredator defence and may be involved in sexual selection, and is thus likely to be the target of multiple selective forces. Intraspecific variation in dorsal patterning is not rare, but the reasons behind it are poorly understood. Anolis lizards offer an ideal system to test for a role of ecological factors in driving variation in dorsal pattern. Anoles show a high degree of variation in dorsal pattern not only among species, but also between and within sexes. We use a comparative framework to explore whether ecological variables such as habitat use and perch height can explain the evolution of sexual dimorphism in dorsal pattern and the presence of female pattern polymorphism (FPP) in 36 Greater Antillean Anolis species. We provide evidence that anoles that perch closer to the ground are more likely to exhibit sexual dimorphism in dorsal pattern, and we suggest that habitat-use differences between sexes in ground-affiliated ecomorphs may drive the evolution of dorsal pattern dimorphism. In contrast, the ecological variables we investigated cannot explain the presence of FPP. Our results demonstrate that niche-associated diversification can generate phenotypic diversity within as well as among species, but the factors responsible for intrasexual polymorphism in some anole species remain cryptic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-435
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Adaptive radiation
  • Anoles
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Polymorphism
  • Sexual dimorphism


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution of dorsal pattern variation in Greater Antillean Anolis lizards'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this