The Lesser Antilles were independently colonized by two divergent groups of Anolis lizards. The Windward Islands were colonized by the roquet series from South America, whereas the Leeward Islands were colonized by the bimaculatus series from the Greater Antilles. Each island consists of one or at most two species of anoles, which display remarkable within-species phenotypic variation. Members of the roquet series and at least two species within the bimaculatus series show strong patterns of convergent phenotypic divergence in response to similar xeric-mesic environmental gradients across islands. Within each species, coastal xeric forms are pale in coloration, while montane mesic forms are green/blue. Thus, the Lesser Antillean anoles provide an opportunity to conduct comparative studies of adaptive color convergence at various phylogenetic scales (across populations, across closely-related species, and across distantly-related clades). Despite the widespread prevalence of convergence across the major Windward Islands (roquet series) and similar xeric-mesic habitats on several Leeward Islands, the prevalence of this pattern through much of the bimaculatus series is unknown. Thus, we lack an understanding of the extent to which Leeward Island anoles display convergent phenotypic divergence with each other and with the distantly-related Windward Island anoles. A broader view of the patterns of convergence, or lack thereof, is important for understanding evolutionary dynamics and to frame comparative studies of genetic architecture. The proposed study will address three questions: (Q1) Do xeric populations show evidence of convergent phenotypic evolution across the Leeward Island anoles? (Q2) Do patterns of xeric-mesic phenotypic divergence in Leeward Island anoles mirror those in distantly related Windward Island anoles? (Q3) Is convergence stronger in more closely-related species than distantly-related species?
The student will be primarily responsible for collecting and analyzing phenotypic/morphometric data from digitized specimens. The student may also be required to help process and digitize specimens. The student may also have opportunities to be involved in collection of genomic data related to the project. The student will be expected to maintain active communication with his/her supervisor and collaborators. Depending on the student’s motivation, interests, and proficiency there may be an opportunity to develop and conduct independent research within the framework of the larger project.
Students should be organized, enthusiastic, and willing to learn. They should be willing to spend substantial time at a computer and have an interest in herpetology, morphology, evolution, and/or molecular ecology. Prior background is helpful, but necessary training will be provided.