Decoupled evolution of display morphology and display behaviour in phrynosomatid lizards

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46 Scopus citations


A widespread trend in animals is the evolution of morphological ornaments and behaviours that are involved in aggressive and courtship displays. These display traits are important from the standpoint of communication, sexual selection, and speciation. Previous authors have suggested that the evolution of display morphology and display behaviour should be closely linked. In this study, I tested for this association with behavioural and morphological data for 59 taxa of phrynosomatid lizards using phylogenetic comparative methods (Maddison's concentrated changes test and Felsenstein's independent contrasts). The results showed little significant association between features of display morphology and behaviour, suggesting that the evolution of these traits is not tightly coupled. This decoupling is particularly evident in the genus Sceloporus, in which several species have lost the display coloration but retain unmodified display behaviour. The results also suggest that display morphology is more evolutionarily labile than display behaviour in this group. (C) 2000 The Linnean Society of London.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-612
Number of pages16
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Character evolution
  • Comparative methods
  • Phylogeny
  • Sexual selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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