Relationships among morphology, clinging performance and habitat use in Liolaemini lizards


María José Tulli, Instituto de Herpetología, Fundación Miguel Lillo, Miguel Lillo 251 (4000), San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina.
Tel.: +54 381 4230056; fax: +54 381 4330868; e-mail:


The central tenet of ecomorphological theory holds that different ecological requirements lead to different organismal designs (morphology). Here, we studied the relationships between performance (interlocking grasping) and forelimb morphological traits in species of lizards that exploit different structural habitats in a phylogenetic context. The performance (measured by the maximum force of clinging to substrate) was measured on different substrate types. After phylogenetically informed analyses, we found that arboreal and saxicolous species showed stronger resistance to mechanical traction in all substrates when compared to generalists and sand dweller lizards. These species showed a positive relationship between forelimb dimensions (humerus length and length of claw of toe 5) and maximum force exerted, on the contrary, hand width, claw height (CH) of digits III and IV and claw length of toe 4 showed a negative relationship. In addition, we observed a partial positive correlation between CH and maximal cling force on rough surfaces, but not on smooth surfaces.