Genetic variability in two West Indian anoles (Reptilia, Iguanidae): relation to field thermal biology

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Abstract

Meristic and electrophoretic characters were used as independent estimators of genetic variability within populations of two West Indian Anolis lizard species. The species which uses flexible regulatory behaviours to maintain thermal homeostasis, A. roquet on Martinique, exhibited much less within-population electrophoretic variability than did the species which is behaviourally passive to changes in the thermal environment, A. gundlachi on Puerto Rico. The data suggest that the high genetic variability in A. gundlachi may be an adaptation to its coarse-grained perception of seasonal variation in the thermal environment, whereas A. roquet's low genetic variability may be adaptive because its flexible regulatory behaviours provide a temporally fine-grained perception of the thermal environment. Meristic characters did not demonstrate any interspecific difference in the amount of within-population genetic variability. Discordance in the results of the meristic and electrophoretic analyses suggest either that the two character sets sample dramatically different genetic phenomena or that environmental effects on the development of meristic characters render them unreliable as indicators of the genetic variability within geographically proximate populations.

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