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Data from: On dangerous ground: the evolution of body armour in cordyline lizards

Citation

Broeckhoven, Chris et al. (2018), Data from: On dangerous ground: the evolution of body armour in cordyline lizards, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.bv9247d

Abstract

Animal body armour is often considered an adaptation that protects prey against predatory attacks, yet comparative studies that link the diversification of these allegedly protective coverings to differential predation risk or pressure are scarce. Here, we examine the evolution of body armour, including spines and osteoderms, in Cordylinae, a radiation of southern African lizards. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we attempt to identify the ecological and environmental correlates of body armour that may hint at the selective pressures responsible for defensive trait diversification. Our results show that species inhabiting arid environments are more likely to possess elaborated body armour, specifically osteoderms. We did not find any effect of estimated predation pressure or risk on the degree of body armour. These findings suggest that body armour might not necessarily evolve in response to direct interactions with predators, but rather as a result of increased habitat-mediated predation risk. Furthermore, we discuss the possibility that osteoderms might have been shaped by factors unrelated to predation.

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