ROLES FOR MODULARITY AND CONSTRAINT IN THE EVOLUTION OF CRANIAL DIVERSITY AMONG ANOLIS LIZARDS

Authors

  • Thomas J. Sanger,

    1. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    3. E-mail: tsanger@oeb.harvard.edu
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  • D. Luke Mahler,

    1. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
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  • Arhat Abzhanov,

    1. Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. These authors contributed equally to the preparation of this manuscript.
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  • Jonathan B. Losos

    1. Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    3. These authors contributed equally to the preparation of this manuscript.
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Abstract

Complex organismal structures are organized into modules, suites of traits that develop, function, and vary in a coordinated fashion. By limiting or directing covariation among component traits, modules are expected to represent evolutionary building blocks and to play an important role in morphological diversification. But how stable are patterns of modularity over macroevolutionary timescales? Comparative analyses are needed to address the macroevolutionary effect of modularity, but to date few have been conducted. We describe patterns of skull diversity and modularity in Caribbean Anolis lizards. We first diagnose the primary axes of variation in skull shape and then examine whether diversification of skull shape is concentrated to changes within modules or whether changes arose across the structure as a whole. We find no support for the hypothesis that cranial modules are conserved as species diversify in overall skull shape. Instead we find that anole skull shape and modularity patterns independently converge. In anoles, skull modularity is evolutionarily labile and may reflect the functional demands of unique skull shapes. Our results suggest that constraints have played little role in limiting or directing the diversification of head shape in Anolis lizards.

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