Data from: Developmental dynamics of ecomorphological convergence in a transcontinental lizard radiation
Cite this dataset
Hipsley, Christy A.; Müller, Johannes (2017). Data from: Developmental dynamics of ecomorphological convergence in a transcontinental lizard radiation [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hp34m
Phenotypic convergence has confounded evolutionary biologists for centuries, explained as adaptations to shared selective pressures, or alternatively, the result of limited developmental pathways. We tested the relative roles of adaptation and constraint in generating convergent cranial morphologies across a large lizard radiation, the Lacertidae, whose members inhabit diverse environments throughout the Old World and display high amounts of homoplasy associated with ecological niche. Using three-dimensional X-ray computed tomography, we quantified cranial shape variation associated with ontogeny, allometry, and ecology, covering all lacertid genera and one-third of species diversity. Landmark-based geometric morphometrics showed that cranial shape varied significantly among biomes, with substantial convergence among arid-dwelling lineages. Comparisons of species ontogenetic growth trajectories between biomes revealed that allometric postdisplacement, as evidenced by decreased elevation of a constant slope, drives the convergent paedomorphic appearance of independent arid-dwelling forms. We hypothesize that observed heterochronic changes reflect temporal compression of ancestral life history in response to extreme environments, with associated phenotypes occurring as by-products of adaptive shifts in reproductive investment. Although allometry has long been considered a developmental constraint, our results demonstrate that allometric flexibility during early ontogeny produces convergent ecomorphologies over vast temporal and spatial scales, thus dramatically obscuring underlying phylogenetic signals.