Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2024


The evolutionary outcomes we observe in modern organisms, particularly associations between phenotypes and environments, have been and remain an invaluable tool in interpreting the biological phenomena that shape our world. In the following chapters, I leverage a comprehensive phylogenetic and morphological dataset for 351 species comprising a diverse group of arboreal lizards, the Anolis clade, to explore how communities and morphologies evolve. First, I characterized patterns among coexisting lineages of Anolis to reveal a general pattern of phylogenetic relatedness among lineages comprising assemblages and identify differences attributable to a biogeographic variable. Then I examined the morphological consequences associated with the evolution of novel, nonarboreal ecological affinities (rock dwelling, ground dwelling, and semiaquatic behavior) to identify convergent morphological outcomes that differ by trait and ecological affinity, but also a shared convergent outcome for nonarboreal Anolis lizards in general. Finally, apply a methodological framework to detect signatures consistent with exaptation in the evolution of modern ecology-morphology associations and suggest an objective means to test ecomorphological designations.


Assemblage structure, Evolution, Ecology, Morphology, Ecomorph, Anolis

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Steven Poe

Second Committee Member

Michael Andersen

Third Committee Member

Kenneth Whitney

Fourth Committee Member

James Degnan