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Amber fossils demonstrate deep-time stability of Caribbean lizard communities.

Authors
  • Sherratt, Emma
  • del Rosario Castañeda, María
  • Garwood, Russell J
  • Mahler, D Luke
  • Sanger, Thomas J
  • Herrel, Anthony
  • de Queiroz, Kevin
  • Losos, Jonathan B
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Date
Aug 11, 2015
Volume
112
Issue
32
Pages
9961–9966
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506516112
PMID: 26216976
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Whether the structure of ecological communities can exhibit stability over macroevolutionary timescales has long been debated. The similarity of independently evolved Anolis lizard communities on environmentally similar Greater Antillean islands supports the notion that community evolution is deterministic. However, a dearth of Caribbean Anolis fossils--only three have been described to date--has precluded direct investigation of the stability of anole communities through time. Here we report on an additional 17 fossil anoles in Dominican amber dating to 15-20 My before the present. Using data collected primarily by X-ray microcomputed tomography (X-ray micro-CT), we demonstrate that the main elements of Hispaniolan anole ecomorphological diversity were in place in the Miocene. Phylogenetic analysis yields results consistent with the hypothesis that the ecomorphs that evolved in the Miocene are members of the same ecomorph clades extant today. The primary axes of ecomorphological diversity in the Hispaniolan anole fauna appear to have changed little between the Miocene and the present, providing evidence for the stability of ecological communities over macroevolutionary timescales.

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