Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Prey-associated head-size variation in an invasive lizard in the Hawaiian Islands.

Abstract

Biological invasions are recognized as a primary driver of large-scale changes in global ecosystems. This study addresses ecomorphological variation in head size within and among populations of an ecologically destructive invasive predator, and evaluates the potential roles of environmental components in phenotypic differentiation. We used four size-corrected measurements of head morphology in Jackson's chameleons, Trioceros jacksonii xantholophus (N=319), collected from multiple Hawaiian Islands to assess phenotypic variation among and within islands. Results of analysis of variance (ANOVA) comparing chameleon head size (PC1) among islands revealed significant differences (mean difference >5%) associated with variation in both rainfall and diet composition using Mann-Whitney U-tests and chi-squared analyses. These results suggest that morphological differentiation among populations from different islands has occurred over a relatively short ecological timescale, and is likely the result of ecomorphological adaptation to differences in exploited prey hardness. Intra-island allopatric population variation, however, was also detected in this study. Although we might expect that genetic change is the more likely explanation for differences between islands than within, and that plasticity may be more likely an explanation for the within- than the between-island differences, it is also possible that both within- and between-island patterns are the results of genetic change, or of plasticity.