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  1. Abstract

    As anthropogenic activities are increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, understanding whether and how fast populations can adapt to sudden changes in their hydric environment is critically important. Here, we capitalize on the introduction of the Cuban brown anole lizard (Anolis sagrei) in North America to assess the contemporary evolution of a widespread terrestrial vertebrate to an abrupt climatic niche shift. We characterized hydric balance in 30 populations along a large climatic gradient. We found that while evaporative and cutaneous water loss varied widely, there was no climatic cline, as would be expected under adaptation. Furthermore, the skin of lizards from more arid environments was covered with smaller scales, a condition thought to limit water conservation and thus be maladaptive. In contrast to environmental conditions, genome-averaged ancestry was a significant predictor of water loss. This was reinforced by our genome-wide association analyses, which indicated a significant ancestry-specific effect for water loss at one locus. Thus, our study indicates that the water balance of invasive brown anoles is dictated by an environment-independent introduction and hybridization history and highlights genetic interactions or genetic correlations as factors that might forestall adaptation. Alternative water conservation strategies, including behavioral mitigation, may influence the brown anole invasion success and require future examination.

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  2. Abstract

    Introductions of invasive species to new environments often result in rapid rates of trait evolution. While in some cases these evolutionary transitions are adaptive and driven by natural selection, they can also result from patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation associated with the invasion history. Here, we examined the brown anole (Anolis sagrei), a widespread invasive lizard for which genetic data have helped trace the sources of non‐native populations. We focused on the dewlap, a complex signalling trait known to be subject to multiple selective pressures. We measured dewlap reflectance, pattern and size in 30 non‐native populations across the southeastern United States. As well, we quantified environmental variables known to influence dewlap signal effectiveness, such as canopy openness. Further, we used genome‐wide data to estimate genetic ancestry, perform association mapping and test for signatures of selection. We found that among‐population variation in dewlap characteristics was best explained by genetic ancestry. This result was supported by genome‐wide association mapping, which identified several ancestry‐specific loci associated with dewlap traits. Despite the strong imprint of this aspect of the invasion history on dewlap variation, we also detected significant relationships between dewlap traits and local environmental conditions. However, we found limited evidence that dewlap‐associated genetic variants have been subject to selection. Our study emphasizes the importance of genetic ancestry and admixture in shaping phenotypes during biological invasion, while leaving the role of selection unresolved, likely due to the polygenic genetic architecture of dewlaps and selection acting on many genes of small effect.

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  3. Abstract

    Research conducted during the past two decades has demonstrated that biological invasions are excellent models of rapid evolution. Even so, characteristics of invasive populations such as a short time for recombination to assemble optimal combinations of alleles may occasionally limit adaptation to new environments. Here, we investigated such genetic constraints to adaptation in the invasive brown anole (Anolis sagrei)—a tropical ectotherm that was introduced to the southeastern United States, a region with a much colder climate than in its native Caribbean range. We examined thermal physiology for 30 invasive populations and tested for a climatic cline in cold tolerance. Also, we used genomics to identify mechanisms that may limit adaptation. We found no support for a climatic cline, indicating that thermal tolerance did not shift adaptively. Concomitantly, population genomic results were consistent with the occurrence of recombination cold spots that comprise more than half of the genome and maintain long‐range associations among alleles in invasive populations. These genomic regions overlap with both candidate thermal tolerance loci that we identified using a standard genome‐wide association test. Moreover, we found that recombination cold spots do not have a large contribution to population differentiation in the invasive range, contrary to observations in the native range. We suggest that limited recombination is constraining the contribution of large swaths of the genome to adaptation in invasive brown anoles. Our study provides an example of evolutionary stasis during invasion and highlights the possibility that reduced recombination occasionally slows down adaptation in invasive populations.

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  4. Hybridization is among the evolutionary mechanisms most frequently hypothesized to drive the success of invasive species, in part because hybrids are common in invasive populations. One explanation for this pattern is that biological invasions coincide with a change in selection pressures that limit hybridization in the native range. To investigate this possibility, we studied the introduction of the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) in the southeastern United States. We find that native populations are highly genetically structured. In contrast, all invasive populations show evidence of hybridization among native-range lineages. Temporal sampling in the invasive range spanning 15 y showed that invasive genetic structure has stabilized, indicating that large-scale contemporary gene flow is limited among invasive populations and that hybrid ancestry is maintained. Additionally, our results are consistent with hybrid persistence in invasive populations resulting from changes in natural selection that occurred during invasion. Specifically, we identify a large-effect X chromosome locus associated with variation in limb length, a well-known adaptive trait in anoles, and show that this locus is often under selection in the native range, but rarely so in the invasive range. Moreover, we find that the effect size of alleles at this locus on limb length is much reduced in hybrids among divergent lineages, consistent with epistatic interactions. Thus, in the native range, epistasis manifested in hybrids can strengthen extrinsic postmating isolation. Together, our findings show how a change in natural selection can contribute to an increase in hybridization in invasive populations.

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  5. null (Ed.)
    Extreme climate events such as droughts, cold snaps, and hurricanes can be powerful agents of natural selection, producing acute selective pressures very different from the everyday pressures acting on organisms. However, it remains unknown whether these infrequent but severe disruptions are quickly erased by quotidian selective forces, or whether they have the potential to durably shape biodiversity patterns across regions and clades. Here, we show that hurricanes have enduring evolutionary impacts on the morphology of anoles, a diverse Neotropical lizard clade. We first demonstrate a transgenerational effect of extreme selection on toepad area for two populations struck by hurricanes in 2017. Given this short-term effect of hurricanes, we then asked whether populations and species that more frequently experienced hurricanes have larger toepads. Using 70 y of historical hurricane data, we demonstrate that, indeed, toepad area positively correlates with hurricane activity for both 12 island populations of Anolis sagrei and 188 Anolis species throughout the Neotropics. Extreme climate events are intensifying due to climate change and may represent overlooked drivers of biogeographic and large-scale biodiversity patterns. 
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  6. Abstract

    Understanding the three‐dimensional (3D) surface complexity of biological systems can yield fundamental insights into how organisms interact with their environments. The wealth of current imaging technologies permits detailed 3D visualization of biological surfaces on the macro‐, micro‐ and nanoscale. Analysis of the reconstructed 3D images, however, remains a challenging proposition.

    Here, we presentQuSTo, a versatile, open‐source program developed in Python to quantify surface topography from profiles obtained from 3D scans. The program calculates metrics that quantify surface roughness and the size (i.e. height and length) and shape (i.e. convexity constant (CC), skewness (Sk) and kurtosis (Ku)) of surface structures.

    We demonstrate the applicability of our program by quantifying the surface topography of snake skin based on newly collected data from white light 3D scans of the ventrum and dorsum of 32 species. To illustrate the utility ofQuSTofor evolutionary and ecological research, we test whether snake species that occur in different habitats differ in skin surface structure using phylogenetic comparative analyses.

    TheQuSToapplication is free, open‐source, user‐friendly and easily adapted for specific analysis requirements (available in GitHub, and is compatible with 3D data obtained with different scanning techniques, for example, white light and laser scanning, photogrammetry, gel‐based stereo‐profilometry. Scientists from various disciplines can useQuSToto examine the surface properties of an array of animal and plant species for both fundamental and applied biological and bioinspired research.

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