Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-11-2018


Patterns of organismal diversity and evolution are often difficult to interpret with a high level of confidence. The number of mechanisms and processes that contribute to shaping patterns of diversity is extensive and is reflected in the many methods researchers have used to infer causation. Taxonomic groups that are well-studied can offer more precise interpretation of pattern and process due to the considerable amount of research addressing ecology, natural history, and behavior of the organisms.

In this dissertation, I explore patterns of phylogenetic and phenotypic variation in Anolis lizards (anoles) by testing hypotheses that could have led to the observed variation. Anoles are prime test subjects to address my questions due to extensive background research on their ecology and evolution. I tested hypotheses at multiple scales. In my first chapter, I studied evolutionary, ecological, and geographic patterns in a closely related species complex, the silky anoles (A. sericeus group). For my second chapter, I examined broad patterns of sexual trait variation among distantly related anole species. Finally, in my third chapter I test the phylogenetic utility of a restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) molecular marker set on a selected group of anoles. Though anoles are well-studied relative to most taxonomic groups, my work reveals that there is still a lot to learn about evolutionary patterns in Anolis, particularly in less studied taxonomic groups in mainland North and Central America.




Anolis, silky anole, sexual selection, niche divergence, phylogenetics, signal trait evolution

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Steve Poe

Second Committee Member

Mike Andersen

Third Committee Member

Joe Cook

Fourth Committee Member

Ian Wang