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Data from: When field experiments yield unexpected results: lessons learned from measuring selection in White Sands lizards

Citation

Hardwick, Kayla M.; Harmon, Luke J.; Hardwick, Scott D.; Rosenblum, Erica Bree (2016), Data from: When field experiments yield unexpected results: lessons learned from measuring selection in White Sands lizards, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.068b6

Abstract

Determining the adaptive significance of phenotypic traits is key for understanding evolution and diversification in natural populations. However, evolutionary biologists have an incomplete understanding of how specific traits affect fitness in most populations. The White Sands system provides an opportunity to study the adaptive significance of traits in an experimental context. Blanched color evolved recently in three species of lizards inhabiting the gypsum dunes of White Sands and is likely an adaptation to avoid predation. To determine whether there is a relationship between color and susceptibility to predation in White Sands lizards, we conducted enclosure experiments, quantifying survivorship of Holbrookia maculate exhibiting substrate-matched and substrate-mismatched phenotypes. Lizards in our study experienced strong predation. Color did not have a significant effect on survival, but we found several unexpected relationships including variation in predation over small spatial and temporal scales. In addition, we detected a marginally significant interaction between sex and color, suggesting selection for substrate matching may be stronger for males than females. We use our results as a case study to examine six major challenges frequently encountered in field-based studies of natural selection, and suggest that insight into the complexities of selection often results when experiments turn out differently than expected.

Usage Notes

Location

New Mexico
White Sands National Monument