Morphological diversification and adaptive radiation: A comparison of two diverse lizard clades

Kenneth I. Warheit, Jonathan D. Forman, Jonathan B. Losos, Donald B. Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We compared the morphological diversity (i.e., the amount of morphological space occupied) of two similar clades, the lizard genera Anolis and Sceloporus. These species-rich monophyletic clades are similar in body size, age of origin, and many aspects of their natural history. We examined a number of morphological traits whose variation is likely to represent adaptation to different aspects of the environment, including body size, limb proportions, head dimensions, and tail length. Examination of the position of species in multidimensional space, based on a principal components analysis, indicates that the morphological diversity of Anolis, which we refer to as disparity, is significantly greater than that of Sceloporus. One potential explanation for this pattern is that morphological diversification in Anolis was facilitated by the evolution of subdigital toe-pads, which allow anoles to use the environment in ways not available to Sceloporus. The geographic location of diversification (tropical and subtropical for Anolis, arid for Sceloporus) may also have been important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1226-1234
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Adaptive radiation
  • Anolis
  • Disparity
  • Diversity
  • Lizard
  • PCA
  • Sceloporus


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