Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Oacia Fair - Michigan State University
Co-Author(s): Jordan Garcia, Beloit College, Beloit, WI Travis Hagey, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Many studies suggest that geckos and anoles have similar functionalities such as their seta, clinging ability, perches, and toe shape, yet quantifying and analyzing their toepad shape has never been done. It is evident that anoles independently evolved from geckos as these lizards are 160 million years apart in their phylogeny. Given their genetic distance, geckos and anoles appear to have similar toepad shape. There are numerous variations of geckos’ toepad shape such as having wide adhesive toepads, narrow toes and losing toes altogether. We hypothesized that geckos and anoles toepad shape morphologies are similar because they experienced similar evolutionary occurrences. For example, Anole Onca has an almost identical toe variation as Gecko species Gonatodes due to both lizard species possessing narrowed-toes and lack adhesion. The importance of this study is it allows scientists to recognize how morphology in toe shape play a role in understanding why distantly related organisms can inherit similar traits and live in similar environments which can be applied to any species. Studies also found anoles toepad shape strongly correlates to their habitat use, but there have been no such studies for geckos. With the knowledge of geckos and anoles habitat use, this will allow us to recognize natural habitats that should be conserved. We used geometric morphmetrics to determine if their toepad shape is indeed similar. We used 82 geckos and 16 anoles for our sample size. Using computer program tpsDIG2, we had a total of 11 landmarks for each specimen to outline the toe, adhesive area and the widest lamella. Then, we put all of that data into R Studio to perform three analyses: Procrustes, Principal Component Analysis, and Phylogenetic Generalized Least Squared. By quantifying their toepad shape, it allowed us to determine how much of their shape resembles one another and which species were closest in morphospace. After conducting our methods, we found that these geckos and anoles possess different toepad shape morphologies. In morphospace, anoles branched off into their own cluster but anole toepad shape was still nested in the variation of geckos. For future research, it is necessary to study geckos in their natural habitat to get a better indication if their toe shape is linked to their habitat use. Also, using newly preserved specimen or live lizards would give more accurate results as some specimen were deteriorating due to being preserved in ethanol for multiple years.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): MSU SROP (Michigan State University Summer Research Opportunities Program); BEACON; Michigan State University.
Faculty Advisor: Travis Hagey, email@example.com
Role: I quantified and analyzed all of the gecko and anole specimen using computer program tpsDIG2, put all the data into R studio and performed the three statistical analyses and I found the results.