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Keywords:

  • ancestral reconstruction;
  • Anolis;
  • body size;
  • character displacement;
  • competition;
  • phylogeny;
  • size assortment

Abstract

The important role that competition plays in structuring communities is well documented; however, the role of competition in an evolutionary context remains unclear. Evolutionary investigations into the role of competition have often focused on the process of character displacement, and a good example of this is the evolution of body size in the Anolis lizards of the Caribbean islands. Previous work on the A. roquet species group has taken a phylogenetic approach and concluded that patterns of body size differences are not caused by character displacement but are a result of size assortment. Using a phylogenetic reconstruction based on the sequence of the cytochrome b gene (cyt-b) and ancestral character-state reconstruction methods, we investigated the roles of character displacement and size assortment. Our results indicated that size assortment alone was insufficient to explain the observed patterns of body size differences. Furthermore, we found that change in body size was associated with a change in allopatry/sympatry, thus supporting the character-displacement hypothesis. We conclude that patterns of body size differences in the A. roquet species group appear to be the result of a combination of character displacement and size assortment because character displacement was only found to be possible on three occasions.