Script and data used in: A lot of convergence, a bit of divergence: environment and interspecific interactions shape body color patterns in Lissotriton newts
de Solan, Thomas (2022), Script and data used in: A lot of convergence, a bit of divergence: environment and interspecific interactions shape body color patterns in Lissotriton newts, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.b8gtht7dw
Coexistence with related species poses evolutionary challenges to which populations may react in diverse ways. When exposed to similar environments, sympatric populations of two species may adopt similar phenotypic trait values. However, selection may also favor trait divergence as a way to reduce competition for resources or mates. The characteristics of external body parts, such as coloration and external morphology, are involved to varying degrees in intraspecific signaling as well as in the adaptation to the environment, and consequently may be diversely affected by interspecific interactions in sympatry. Here, we studied the effect of sympatry on various color and morphological traits in males and females of two related newt species Lissotriton helveticus and L. vulgaris. Importantly, we did not only estimate how raw trait differences between species respond to sympatry, but also the marginal responses after controlling for environmental variation. We found that dorsal and caudal coloration converged in sympatry, likely reflecting their role in adaptation to local environments, especially concealment from predators. In contrast, aspects of male and female ventral coloration, which harbours sexual signals in both species, diverged in sympatry. This divergence may reduce opportunities for interspecific sexual interactions and the associated loss of energy, suggesting reproductive character displacement (RCD). Our study emphasizes the contrasting patterns of traits involved in different functions and calls for the need to consider this diversity in evolutionary studies.