Evol Ecol Res 9: 261-282 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

A phylogenetic approach to determining the importance of constraint on phenotypic evolution in the neotropical lizard Anolis cristatellus

Liam J. Revell,1* Luke J. Harmon,2 R. Brian Langerhans1 and Jason J. Kolbe3

1Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA, 2Biodiversity Centre, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada and  3Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405-3700, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: lrevell@fas.harvard.edu


Question: Is the pattern of phenotypic divergence among populations influenced by constraint in the form of the genetic covariances among characters?

Background: Quantitative genetic theory predicts that when evolutionary lineages diverge simultaneously by genetic drift, the pattern of among-population divergence will parallel the pattern of within-population genetic variation and covariation. Among-population divergence is measured by the variance–covariance matrix of population means (the D matrix), or by the variance–covariance matrix of independent contrasts (DIC). The latter avoids the assumption of simultaneous divergence by incorporating phylogenetic non-independence among lineages and was developed expressly for this study. Within-population genetic variation and covariation are measured by the additive genetic variance–covariance matrix (the G matrix).

Organism: The Puerto Rican crested anole (Anolis cristatellus).

Methods: We sampled A. cristatellus from seven divergent populations widely dispersed across the species’ range. These populations are sufficiently highly diverged to be considered evolutionarily independent lineages. We substituted the phenotypic variance–covariance matrix (P matrix) for G in evolutionary analysis. (Empirical studies have shown that P and G are frequently highly correlated for morphological traits.) In two populations, we estimated phenotypic variance–covariance matrices (P matrices) for 13 skeletal morphological traits, while in the remaining five we estimated mean phenotypes for the same traits. To test the hypothesis of constraint, we first calculated a pooled phenotypic variance–covariance matrix (P̄̄) from all populations. We compared P̄̄ to the variance–covariance matrix of population means (D) and of independent contrasts (DIC). Independent contrasts were calculated using a molecular phylogeny of the included lineages.

Results: Comparison of P matrices between populations showed evidence that covariance structure is highly conserved in conspecific populations of A. cristatellus. Comparison of P̄̄ with D and of P̄̄ with DIC indicated significant similarity in both cases, suggesting that constraint has influenced phenotypic evolution and thus probably genotypic evolution in this species.

Keywords: evolutionary constraint, genetic variance–covariance matrix, independent contrasts, matrix comparison, phenotypic variance–covariance matrix, quantitative genetics.

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        © 2007 Liam J. Revell. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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