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Repeated evolution of exaggerated dewlaps and other throat morphology in lizards

AuthorsOrd, Terry J.; Klomp, D. A.; García Porta, Joan ; Hagman, M.
KeywordsAggressive competition
Animal communication
Morphological cues
Sexually selected
Signal detection
Issue DateNov-2015
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationJournal of Evolutionary Biology 28(11): 1948-1964 (2015)
AbstractThe existence of elaborate ornamental structures in males is often assumed to reflect the outcome of female mate choice for showy males. However, female mate choice appears weak in many iguanian lizards, but males still exhibit an array of ornament-like structures around the throat. We performed a phylogenetic comparative study to assess whether these structures have originated in response to male–male competition or the need for improved signal efficiency in visually difficult environments. We found little evidence for the influence of male–male competition. Instead, forest species were more likely to exhibit colourful throat appendages than species living in open habitats, suggesting selection for signal efficiency. On at least three independent occasions, throat ornamentation has become further elaborated into a large, conspicuously coloured moving dewlap. Although the function of the dewlap is convergent, the underlying hyoid apparatus has evolved very differently, revealing the same adaptive outcome has been achieved through multiple evolutionary trajectories. More generally, our findings highlight that extravagant, ornament-like morphology can evolve in males without the direct influence of female mate choice and that failure to consider alternative hypotheses for the evolution of these structures can obscure the true origins of signal diversity among closely related taxa.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.12709
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