SICB 2014: Dewlap Variation in Sitana

Both images from ganeshdhane’s flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ganeshdhane/

A non-anole regular on Anole Annals (e.g., 1, 2, 3) made an appearance at SICB this year. Not the species itself, but a fascinating presentation by Ambika Kamath on population variation in dewlap dimorphism in Sitana ponticeriana. Kamath presented information on display behavior for three color variants of Sitana: uncolored, colored, and intermediate. She wondered whether the three geographically separated variants display differently and whether the dewlap variation might be due to environment or sexual selection.

 

Coloured-fanned, intermediate-fanned, and white-fanned male Sitana ponticeriana. Photographs by Shrikant Ranade, Jahnavi Pai, and Jitendra Katre respectively.

By studying eight populations of this species, Kamath found that the three variants did indeed display differently. The colored variants had long displays with remarkable head turns and twists (wow, there was some amazing video!). The uncolored variants had body position changes, but no head turns and twists. Finally, the intermediate variants simply had short displays with no head turns or body position changes. Multivariate analysis of behavior clearly separated the populations based on color variant. Also, they flick that throatfan VERY quickly!

Based on the available data, it seems unlikely that environmental variation in habitat type or vegetation explains the variants, but sexual selection does appear possible. Colored dewlaps are associated with male-biased sexual dimorphism, whereas the uncolored variants have no dimorphism or female-larger dimorphism. Further, scaling of dewlap area to body size revealed that the colored and intermediate variants have evolved large dewlaps in different ways. This also supports Kamath’s proposal that there are multiple origins of large dewlaps and colorful dewlaps within the distribution of this widespread species. Future research will no doubt be of interest to us at Anole Annals and beyond!

About Jerry Husak

I am an Assistant Professor at the Univeresity of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. My research focuses on understanding how the processes of natural and sexual selection shape physiological and morphological traits. I study anoles to understand how endocrine systems evolve to modulate social behavior.

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