Ecomorphological studies of the diverse Anolis genus provide us with valuable insights to the evolutionary ecology of this group, but we know much more about ecomorphology in Caribbean anoles than in the mainland anole species in Central and South America. In his undergraduate thesis research, Andrés Mármol-Guijaro aimed to start filling in this gap. Working with Dr. Omar Torres-Carvajal at Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Andrés studied morphological features associated with clinging ability in Ecuadorian anoles. Andrés measured toe pad area, clinging ability and perch height of seven Anolis species (five in the Dactyloa clade and two in the Norops clade) that occur in the Ecuadorian Amazon River basin and the Western slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes. He found that neither relative toe pad area nor relative perch height were associated with clinging ability in the Ecuadorian anoles, in contrast to the positive relationships among these traits in Caribbean anoles. Evolutionary differences among phylogenetic lineages may partially explain this variation in ecomorphology between mainland and Caribbean anoles, but additional studies of the diverse mainland groups will help to clarify this. Andrés invites us all to Ecuador to continue studies of this amazing anole fauna!
Note: This post was written by Lauren Davis, an undergraduate student studying lizard behavior at Trinity University.