Data from: Form function relationships support fast ecological shift in a lizard

  • Maxime Taverne (Creator)
  • Peter J Watson (Creator)
  • Hugo Dutel (Creator)
  • Renaud Boistel (Creator)
  • Duje Lisičić (Creator)
  • Zoran Tadić (Creator)
  • Anne-Claire Fabre (Creator)
  • Michael J Fagan (Creator)
  • Anthony Herrel (Creator)



Macroevolutionary changes such as variation in habitat use or diet are often associated with convergent, adaptive changes in morphology. However, it is still unclear how small-scale morphological variation at the population level can drive shifts in ecology as observed at a macroevolutionary scale. Here, we address this question by investigating how variation in cranial form and feeding mechanics relate to rapid changes in diet in an insular lizard (Podarcis siculus) after experimental introduction into a new environment. We first quantified differences in the skull and jaw muscle architecture between the source and introduced population using 3D geometric morphometrics and dissections. Next, we tested the impact of the observed variation in morphology on the mechanical performance of the masticatory system using computer-based biomechanical simulation techniques. Our results show that the small differences in shape, combined with variation in muscle architecture, can result in significant differences in performance allowing access to novel trophic resources. The confrontation of these data with the already described macroevolutionary relationships between cranial form and function in these insular lizards provides insights into how selection can, over relatively short time scales, drive major changes in ecology through its impact on mechanical performance.
Date made available2023

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