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Keywords:

  • Argentina;
  • behaviour;
  • Chile;
  • ecomorphology;
  • Iguanidae;
  • independent contrasts;
  • Liolaemus;
  • lizard;
  • Squamata

Abstract

Phenotypic differences among species are known to have functional consequences that in turn allow species to use different habitats. However, the role of behaviour in this ecomorphological paradigm is not well defined. We investigated the relationship between morphology, ecology and escape behaviour among 25 species of the lizard clade Liolaemus in a phylogenetic framework. We demonstrate that the relationship between morphology and characteristics of habitat structure shows little or no association, consistent with a previous study on this group. However, a significant relationship was found between morphology and escape behaviour with the distance a lizard moved from a potential predator correlated with body width, axilla-groin length, and pelvis width. A significant relationship between escape behaviour and habitat structure occupation was found; lizards that occupied tree trunks and open ground ran longer distances from predators and were found greater distances from shelter. Behavioural strategies used by these lizards in open habitats appear to have made unnecessary the evolution of limb morphology that has occurred in other lizards from other clades that are found in open settings. Understanding differences in patterns of ecomorphological relationships among clades is an important component for studying adaptive diversification.