Hind-limb length plasticity in Anolis carolinensis

Jason J. Kolbe, Jonathan B. Losos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The positive relationship between hind-limb length and perch diameter is well established in Anolis lizards, both among populations of some species and among species. Interspecific comparisons indicate that longer legs confer an advantage for increased running speed on broad substrates, whereas shorter limbs provide greater maneuverability on narrow surfaces. In this light, phenotypic plasticity for hind-limb length previously detected in Anolis sagrei may be adaptive because hatchlings exposed to only broad substrates developed relatively longer hind limbs for their body size compared to hatchlings exposed to only narrow substrates. We tested the generality of hind-limb length plasticity in Anolis by conducting a hatchling growth experiment on Anolis carolinensis, a distant relative of A. sagrei and a different type of habitat specialist. Similar to A. sagrei, A. carolinensis grown in cages with different sized perches showed hind-limb length plasticity, but the magnitude of difference between treatments and sexes was less for A. carolinensis than for A. sagrei. This finding suggests either hind-limb plasticity is widespread within the genus Anolis or that it has evolved independently at least twice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-678
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005


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