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Chameleon biogeographic dispersal is associated with extreme life history strategies
Ecography, Volume: 2022, Issue: 10
Swansea University Authors: Sarah Weil, Luca Borger , William Allen
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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/ecog.06323
Understanding the role of traits in dispersal is necessary to improve our knowledge of historical biogeography, community assembly processes and predictions of species' future movements. Here we aimed to determine the relationship between three traits (coastal distribution, body size, position...
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Understanding the role of traits in dispersal is necessary to improve our knowledge of historical biogeography, community assembly processes and predictions of species' future movements. Here we aimed to determine the relationship between three traits (coastal distribution, body size, position on the fast/slow life history continuum) and past dispersal probability on an evolutionary timescale in chameleons (Chamaeleonidae). Using species' distribution data we identified the nine most important biogeographic regions for all included chameleons (181/217 species). We compiled life history trait data and used phylogenetic factor analysis to infer independent body size and fast/slow life history trait axes. Finally, we tested whether traits and trait combinations related to biogeographic dispersal success in the past, using trait-dependent biogeographic models. All three traits were associated with past biogeographical movements. Lineages having coastal distributions and those with large bodies had higher dispersal probabilities. Interestingly, chameleons with either a very fast or very slow life history were more successful dispersers than species with an intermediate strategy. Together, the three traits – coastal, large-bodied and extreme life history – form a dispersal syndrome. Traits have played an important role in the biogeographic history of chameleons. While only fast traits have been linked to present-day invasion success in reptiles, both extremes of the life history spectrum were likely advantageous for dispersal and establishment during past biogeographic movements. Fast-living species may be less susceptible to stochastic extinction in the first phases of a colonization (due to rapid population growth), and slow-living species may be less vulnerable to environmental stochasticity (due to low demographic variability). Our results call for broader analyses testing the general influence of life history strategy in biogeographic dispersal success, which would help explain species distribution patterns on Earth.
biogeography; Chamaeleonidae; dispersal; life history continuum; species' traits; trait-dependent biogeography
Faculty of Science and Engineering