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Head shape evolution in Gymnophthalmidae: does habitat use constrain the evolution of cranial design in fossorial lizards?
- BARROS, F. C., HERREL, A., KOHLSDORF, T.
- Journal of evolutionary biology 2011 v.24 no.11 pp. 2423-2433
- food choices, head, lizards, locomotion, microhabitats, phylogeny
- Habitat usage comprises interactions between ecological parameters and organismal capacities, and the selective pressures that ultimately determine the outcome of such processes in an evolutionary scale may be conflicting when the same morphological structure is recruited for different activities. Here, we investigate the roles of diet and locomotion in the evolution of cranial design in gymnophthalmid lizards and test the hypothesis that microhabitat use drives head shape evolution, particularly in head‐first burrowers. Morphological factors were analysed in relation to continuous ecological indexes (prey hardness and substrate compactness) using conventional and phylogenetic approaches. Results suggest that the evolution of head morphology in Gymnophthalmidae was shaped under the influence of microhabitat use rather than diet: burrowers have shorter heads with lower rostral angulation, independently of the prey consumed. Food preferences appear to be relatively conserved throughout the phylogeny of the group, which may have permitted the extensive radiation of gymnophthalmids into fossorial microhabitats.