The comparative evolution of lizard claw and toe morphology and clinging performance

Authors


Peter A. Zani Department of Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403–1210, USA. Tel.: +1 541 346 4542; fax: +1 541 346 2364; e-mail: pzani@darkwing.uoregon.edu

Abstract

In this study, I utilize the expected functional relationships between claw and toe morphology and clinging performance as a basis for examining evolutionary trends across 85 lizard taxa from 13 families. After controlling for body size and phylogeny, multivariate comparisons indicate that several aspects of claw and toe morphology are correlated with clinging performance. Specifically, evolutionary increases in claw curvature, toe width and adhesive lamella number are correlated with increases in clinging performance on smooth substrates. Furthermore, evolutionary increases in claw height and decreases in toe length are correlated with increases in clinging performance on rough substrates. Sensitivity analyses revealed that changes in both branch lengths and procedural order of correction for body size and phylogeny do not generally have an effect on phylogenetic comparisons. These results demonstrate that the evolution of claw and toe morphology is correlated with the evolution of clinging performance across a wide range lizard taxa.

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