Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 March 2021) | Viewed by 15766

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Special Issue Editors

Departamento de Biodiversidad, Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, C/José Antonio Novais 12, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: development; ecoimmunology; ethology; evolutionary ecology; locomotion; thermoregulation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Departamento de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain
Interests: evolutionary ecology; ecology; immune system; regeneration; genomics; population genetics; demography; skeletochronology; stable isotopes analysis and herpetology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Except for latitudinal and elevational extremes, lizards range across a vast variety of biotopes worldwide, including environments as disparate as deserts, prairies, temperate woodlands, rainforests, or anthropic habitats. Although most species thrive on the ground, numerous lizards are fossorial, arboreal, and even aquatic, found in either fresh- or seawater. With lizards being ectotherms, accurate thermoregulation is in most cases fundamental for their survival in such a variety of habitats. Despite some vegetarian instances, lizards are primarily mesopredators, which signifies that they simultaneously play the conflicting roles of predators and prey. Moreover, lizards are the target of multiple endo- and ectoparasites. Consequently, the astonishing morphological, ecological, and functional diversity of lizards results from extremely intense selective pressures, oftentimes opposing, many of whose interrelationships are yet to be disentangled. This Special Issue aims to provide the international scientific community with an integrative meeting point to discuss and synthesize the current knowledge on the evolutionary pathways and mechanisms that led to today’s lizards, with a particular focus on, but not limited to, ecology, ethology, physiology, and their interactions.

Dr. Francisco Javier Zamora-Camacho
Dr. Mar Comas
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • adaptation
  • ecoimmunology
  • ecophysiology
  • ethology
  • reproduction
  • thermoregulation
  • trophic ecology

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 188 KiB  
Editorial
Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards: Lessons from a Special Issue
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13110565 - 05 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1271
Abstract
Regardless of taxonomical disquisitions on its yet unraveled phylogenetic relationships within and among taxa [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

13 pages, 1953 KiB  
Article
Effects of Caudal Autotomy on the Locomotor Performance of Micrablepharus Atticolus (Squamata, Gymnophthalmidae)
Diversity 2021, 13(11), 562; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13110562 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1765
Abstract
Caudal autotomy is a striking adaptation used by many lizard species to evade predators. Most studies to date indicate that caudal autotomy impairs lizard locomotor performance. Surprisingly, some species bearing the longest tails show negligible impacts of caudal autotomy on sprint speed. Part [...] Read more.
Caudal autotomy is a striking adaptation used by many lizard species to evade predators. Most studies to date indicate that caudal autotomy impairs lizard locomotor performance. Surprisingly, some species bearing the longest tails show negligible impacts of caudal autotomy on sprint speed. Part of this variation has been attributed to lineage effects. For the first time, we model the effects of caudal autotomy on the locomotor performance of a gymnophthalmid lizard, Micrablepharus atticolus, which has a long and bright blue tail. To improve model accuracy, we incorporated the effects of several covariates. We found that body temperature, pregnancy, mass, collection site, and the length of the regenerated portion of the tail were the most important predictors of locomotor performance. However, sprint speed was unaffected by tail loss. Apparently, the long tail of M. atticolus is more useful when using undulation amidst the leaf litter and not when using quadrupedal locomotion on a flat surface. Our findings highlight the intricate relationships among physiological, morphological, and behavioral traits. We suggest that future studies about the impacts of caudal autotomy among long-tailed lizards should consider the role of different microhabitats/substrates on locomotor performance, using laboratory conditions that closely mimic their natural environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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14 pages, 12132 KiB  
Article
Does Hyperoxia Restrict Pyrenean Rock Lizards Iberolacerta bonnali to High Elevations?
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050200 - 11 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2905
Abstract
Ectothermic animals living at high elevation often face interacting challenges, including temperature extremes, intense radiation, and hypoxia. While high-elevation specialists have developed strategies to withstand these constraints, the factors preventing downslope migration are not always well understood. As mean temperatures continue to rise [...] Read more.
Ectothermic animals living at high elevation often face interacting challenges, including temperature extremes, intense radiation, and hypoxia. While high-elevation specialists have developed strategies to withstand these constraints, the factors preventing downslope migration are not always well understood. As mean temperatures continue to rise and climate patterns become more extreme, such translocation may be a viable conservation strategy for some populations or species, yet the effects of novel conditions, such as relative hyperoxia, have not been well characterised. Our study examines the effect of downslope translocation on ectothermic thermal physiology and performance in Pyrenean rock lizards (Iberolacerta bonnali) from high elevation (2254 m above sea level). Specifically, we tested whether models of organismal performance developed from low-elevation species facing oxygen restriction (e.g., hierarchical mechanisms of thermal limitation hypothesis) can be applied to the opposite scenario, when high-elevation organisms face hyperoxia. Lizards were split into two treatment groups: one group was maintained at a high elevation (2877 m ASL) and the other group was transplanted to low elevation (432 m ASL). In support of hyperoxia representing a constraint, we found that lizards transplanted to the novel oxygen environment of low elevation exhibited decreased thermal preferences and that the thermal performance curve for sprint speed shifted, resulting in lower performance at high body temperatures. While the effects of hypoxia on thermal physiology are well-explored, few studies have examined the effects of hyperoxia in an ecological context. Our study suggests that high-elevation specialists may be hindered in such novel oxygen environments and thus constrained in their capacity for downslope migration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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15 pages, 28896 KiB  
Article
Karstic Landscapes Are Foci of Species Diversity in the World’s Third-Largest Vertebrate Genus Cyrtodactylus Gray, 1827 (Reptilia: Squamata; Gekkonidae)
Diversity 2021, 13(5), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13050183 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 38 | Viewed by 3959
Abstract
Karstic landscapes are immense reservoirs of biodiversity and range-restricted endemism. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world’s third-largest vertebrate genus Cyrtodactylus (Gekkonidae) which contains well over 300 species. A stochastic character mapping analysis of 10 different habitat preferences across a phylogeny [...] Read more.
Karstic landscapes are immense reservoirs of biodiversity and range-restricted endemism. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world’s third-largest vertebrate genus Cyrtodactylus (Gekkonidae) which contains well over 300 species. A stochastic character mapping analysis of 10 different habitat preferences across a phylogeny containing 344 described and undescribed species recovered a karst habitat preference occurring in 25.0% of the species, whereas that of the other eight specific habitat preferences occurred in only 0.2–11.0% of the species. The tenth category—general habitat preference—occurred in 38.7% of the species and was the ancestral habitat preference for Cyrtodactylus and the ultimate origin of all other habitat preferences. This study echoes the results of a previous study illustrating that karstic landscapes are generators of species diversity within Cyrtodactylus and not simply “imperiled arks of biodiversity” serving as refugia for relics. Unfortunately, the immense financial returns of mineral extraction to developing nations largely outweighs concerns for biodiversity conservation, leaving approximately 99% of karstic landscapes with no legal protection. This study continues to underscore the urgent need for their appropriate management and conservation. Additionally, this analysis supports the monophyly of the recently proposed 31 species groups and adds one additional species group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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18 pages, 3469 KiB  
Article
Inter-Individual Differences in Ornamental Colouration in a Mediterranean Lizard in Relation to Altitude, Season, Sex, Age, and Body Traits
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13040158 - 06 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1976
Abstract
Animals frequently show complex colour patterns involved in social communication, which attracts great interest in evolutionary and behavioural ecology. Most researchers interpret that each colour in animals with multiple patches may either signal a different bearer’s trait or redundantly convey the same information. [...] Read more.
Animals frequently show complex colour patterns involved in social communication, which attracts great interest in evolutionary and behavioural ecology. Most researchers interpret that each colour in animals with multiple patches may either signal a different bearer’s trait or redundantly convey the same information. Colour signals, moreover, may vary geographically and according to bearer qualities. In this study, we analyse different sources of colour variation in the eastern clade of the lizard Psammodromus algirus. Sexual dichromatism markedly differs between clades; both possess lateral blue eyespots, but whereas males in the western populations display strikingly colourful orange-red throats during the breeding season, eastern lizards only show some commissure pigmentation and light yellow throats. We analyse how different colour traits (commissure and throat colouration, and the number of blue eyespots) vary according to body size, head size (an indicator of fighting ability), and sex along an elevational gradient. Our findings show that blue eyespots function independently from colour patches in the commissure and throat, which were interrelated. Males had more eyespots and orange commissures (which were yellow or colourless in females). Throat colour saturation and the presence of coloured commissures increased in older lizards. The number of eyespots, presence of a coloured commissure, and throat colour saturation positively related to head size. However, while the number of eyespots was maximal at lowlands, throat colour saturation increased with altitude. Overall, our results suggest that this lizard harbours several colour signals, which altitudinally differ in their importance, but generally provide redundant information. The relevance of each signal may depend on the context. For example, all signals indicate head size, but commissure colouration may work well at a short distance and when the lizard opens the mouth, while both throat and eyespots might work better at long distance. Meanwhile, throat colouration and eyespots probably work better in different light conditions, which might explain the altitudinal variation in the relative importance of each colour component. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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11 pages, 1874 KiB  
Article
Habitat Partitioning and Overlap by Large Lacertid Lizards in Southern Europe
Diversity 2021, 13(4), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13040155 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2788
Abstract
South-western Europe has a rich diversity of lacertid lizards. In this study, we evaluated the occupancy patterns and niche segregation of five species of lacertids, focusing on large-bodied species (i.e., adults having >75 mm snout-vent length) that occur in south-western Europe (Italian to [...] Read more.
South-western Europe has a rich diversity of lacertid lizards. In this study, we evaluated the occupancy patterns and niche segregation of five species of lacertids, focusing on large-bodied species (i.e., adults having >75 mm snout-vent length) that occur in south-western Europe (Italian to the Iberian Peninsula). We characterized the niches occupied by these species based on climate and vegetation cover properties. We expected some commonality among phylogenetically related species, but also patterns of habitat segregation mitigating competition between ecologically equivalent species. We used multivariate ordination and probabilistic methods to describe the occupancy patterns and evaluated niche evolution through phylogenetic analyses. Our results showed climate niche partitioning, but with a wide overlap in transitional zones, where segregation is maintained by species-specific responses to the vegetation cover. The analyses also showed that phylogenetically related species tend to share large parts of their habitat niches. The occurrence of independent evolutionary lineages contributed to the regional species richness favored by a long history of niche divergence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Lizards)
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