Article

Associations of variable coloration with niche breadth and conservation status among Australian reptiles

School of Pure and Applied Natural Sciences, University of Kalmar, SE-391 82 Kalmar, Sweden.
Ecology (Impact Factor: 5). 06/2008; 89(5):1201-7. DOI: 10.1890/07-1670.1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We evaluate predictions concerning the evolutionary and ecological consequences of color polymorphisms. Previous endeavors have aimed at identifying conditions that promote the evolution and maintenance within populations of alternative variants. But the polymorphic condition may also influence important population processes. We consider the prediction that populations that consist of alternative "ecomorphs" with coadapted gene complexes will utilize more diverse resources and display higher rates of colonization success, population persistence, and range expansions, while being less vulnerable to range contractions and extinctions, compared with monomorphic populations. We perform pairwise comparative analyses based on information for 323 species of Australian lizards and snakes. We find that species with variable color patterns have larger ranges, utilize a greater diversity of habitat types, and are underrepresented among species currently listed as threatened. These results are consistent with the proposition that the co-occurrence of multiple color variants may promote the ecological success of populations and species, but there are also alternative interpretations.

0 Followers
 · 
96 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Species in the suborder Serpentes present a powerful model for understanding processes involved in visual signal design. Although vision is generally poor in snakes, they are often both predators and prey of visually oriented species. We examined how ecological and behavioral factors have driven the evolution of snake patterning using a phylogenetic comparative approach. The appearances of 171 species of Australian and North American snakes were classified using a reaction-diffusion model of pattern development, the parameters of which allow parametric quantification of various aspects of coloration. The main findings include associations between plain color and an active hunting strategy, longitudinal stripes and rapid escape speed, blotched patterns with ambush hunting, slow movement and pungent cloacal defense, and spotted patterns with close proximity to cover. Expected associations between bright colors, aggressive behavior, and venom potency were not observed. The mechanisms through which plain and longitudinally striped patterns might support camouflage during movement are discussed. The flicker-fusion hypothesis for transverse striped patterns being perceived as uniform color during movement is evaluated as theoretically possible but unlikely. Snake pattern evolution is generally phylogenetically conservative, but by sampling densely in a wide variety of snake lineages, we have demonstrated that similar pattern phenotypes have evolved repeatedly in response to similar ecological demands.
    Behavioral Ecology 08/2013; 24(5-5):1237-1250. DOI:10.1093/beheco/art058 · 3.16 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many characteristics, for example life‐history traits, physiological tolerance to heat and cold, and energy requirements, contribute to a population's ability to persist in the face of climatic variation. Recent studies have suggested that the presence of intraspecific colour polymorphism could be another potential contributor to population resilience (e.g. to climate change) in ectothermic vertebrates such as reptiles. In the present study, we tested for a relationship between the presence of intraspecific colour polymorphism and the age of snake species. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we demonstrate that the presence of intraspecific colour polymorphism is correlated with the age of a species, with polymorphic snake species being significantly older than monomorphic species. Understanding how species have dealt with past environmental modifications, such as climate change, can provide important insights into how they are likely to respond in the future to continuing climate warming. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ••, ••–••.
    Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 09/2012; 107(1). DOI:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.01936.x · 2.54 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract Genetically determined polymorphisms incorporating multiple traits can persist in nature under chronic, fluctuating, and sometimes conflicting selection pressures. Balancing selection among morphs preserves equilibrium frequencies, while correlational selection maintains favorable trait combinations within each morph. Under negative frequency-dependent selection, females should mate (often disassortatively) with rare male morphotypes to produce conditionally fit offspring. Conversely, under correlational selection, females should mate assortatively to preserve coadapted gene complexes and avoid ontogenetic conflict. Using controlled breeding designs, we evaluated consequences of assortative mating patterns in color-polymorphic side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana), to identify conflict between these sources of selection. Females who mated disassortatively, and to conditionally high-quality males in the context of frequency-dependent selection, experienced highest fertility rates. In contrast, assortatively mated females experienced higher fetal viability rates. The trade-off between fertility and egg viability resulted in no overall fitness benefit to either assortative or disassortative mating patterns. These results suggest that ongoing conflict between correlational and frequency dependent selection in polymorphic populations may generate a trade-off between rare-morph advantage and phenotypic integration and between assortative and disassortative mating decisions. More generally, interactions among multiple sources of diversity-promoting selection can alter adaptations and dynamics predicted to arise under any of these regimes alone.
    The American Naturalist 08/2014; 184(2):188-197. DOI:10.1086/676645 · 4.45 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Download
113 Downloads
Available from
May 20, 2014