Introduction history and hybridization determine the hydric balance of an invasive lizard facing a recent climate niche shift

Simon Baeckens, Jonathan B. Losos, Duncan J. Irschick, Jason J. Kolbe, Dan G. Bock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As anthropogenic activities are increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, understanding whether and how fast populations can adapt to sudden changes in their hydric environment is critically important. Here, we capitalize on the introduction of the Cuban brown anole lizard (Anolis sagrei) in North America to assess the contemporary evolution of a widespread terrestrial vertebrate to an abrupt climatic niche shift. We characterized hydric balance in 30 populations along a large climatic gradient. We found that while evaporative and cutaneous water loss varied widely, there was no climatic cline, as would be expected under adaptation. Furthermore, the skin of lizards from more arid environments was covered with smaller scales, a condition thought to limit water conservation and thus be maladaptive. In contrast to environmental conditions, genome-averaged ancestry was a significant predictor of water loss. This was reinforced by our genome-wide association analyses, which indicated a significant ancestry-specific effect for water loss at one locus. Thus, our study indicates that the water balance of invasive brown anoles is dictated by an environment-independent introduction and hybridization history and highlights genetic interactions or genetic correlations as factors that might forestall adaptation. Alternative water conservation strategies, including behavioral mitigation, may influence the brown anole invasion success and require future examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Anolis sagrei
  • evaporative water loss
  • hybridization
  • invasive species
  • rapid evolution
  • scalation


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