Concordance Between Locomotor Morphology and Foraging Mode in Lacertid Lizards

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Foraging behaviors exist along a continuum from highly sedentary, ambush foraging, to more continuous searching, or active foraging. Foraging strategies, or modes, are defined based upon locomotor behaviors (e.g. percent time moving, moves per minute). In lizards, traits correlated with ambush and active foraging have been of interest for some time; however, general patterns of correlated evolution between locomotor morphology and locomotor behavior have only recently begun to be quantified. In this study, variation in hindlimb morphology is investigated in a model group of lizard species that vary between active foraging and more sedentary (or mixed) foraging mode. Canonical variates analysis reveals that the two active foraging species occupy similar regions of the morphospace, while the two more sedentary species occupy different regions. The active foraging species have a narrow pelvis with shorter tibia and femora. The more sedentary species have a wide pelvis, long tibia and femora, and slightly longer metatarsals. Phylogenetic patterns of trait variation were examined through ancestral character state reconstruction and show morphological shifts in concert with foraging mode in these species. The observed shifts in locomotor morphology are discussed in light of published data on sprint speed and endurance in these species. Together, the data show that linking morphological variation to variation in stride length and stride frequency is critical to understanding the evolution of locomotor performance. Much more stride length and frequency data are needed among ambush, mixed, and active foraging species because these parameters, and their morphological components, are likely correlated with variation in food acquisition mode.