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  1. The auditory papilla of geckos contains two zones of sensory hair cells, one covered by a continuous tectorial membrane affixed to the hair bundles and the other by discrete tectorial sallets each surmounting a transverse row of bundles. Gecko papillae are thought to encode sound frequencies up to 5 kHz, but little is known about the hair cell electrical properties or their role in frequency tuning. We recorded from hair cells in the isolated auditory papilla of the crested gecko, Correlophus ciliatus , and found that in both the nonsalletal region and part of the salletal region, the cells displayed electrical tuning organized tonotopically. Along the salletal zone, occupying the apical two-thirds of the papilla, hair bundle length decreased threefold and stereociliary complement increased 1.5-fold. The two morphological variations predict a 13-fold gradient in bundle stiffness, confirmed experimentally, which, when coupled with salletal mass, could provide passive mechanical resonances from 1 to 6 kHz. Sinusoidal electrical currents injected across the papilla evoked hair bundle oscillations at twice the stimulation frequency, consistent with fast electromechanical responses from hair bundles of two opposing orientations across the papilla. Evoked bundle oscillations were diminished by reducing Ca 2+ influx, but not by blocking themore »mechanotransduction channels or inhibiting prestin action, thereby distinguishing them from known electromechanical mechanisms in hair cells. We suggest the phenomenon may be a manifestation of an electromechanical amplification that augments the passive mechanical tuning of the sallets over the high-frequency region.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 22, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  3. Abstract How developmental modifications produce key innovations, which subsequently allow for rapid diversification of a clade into new adaptive zones, has received much attention. However, few studies have used a robust comparative framework to investigate the influence of evolutionary and developmental constraints on the origin of key innovations, such as the adhesive toe pad of lizards. Adhesive toe pads evolved independently at least 16 times in lizards, allowing us to examine whether the patterns observed are general evolutionary phenomena or unique, lineage-specific events. We performed a high-resolution comparison of plantar scale development in 14 lizard species in Anolis and geckos, encompassing five independent origins of toe pads (one in Anolis, four in geckos). Despite substantial evolutionary divergence between Anolis and geckos, we find that these clades have undergone similar developmental modifications to generate their adhesive toe pads. Relative to the ancestral plantar scale development, in which scale ridges form synchronously along the digit, both padded geckos and Anolis exhibit scansor formation in a distal-to-proximal direction. Both clades have undergone developmental repatterning and, following their origin, modifications in toe pad morphology occurred through relatively minor developmental modifications, suggesting that developmental constraints governed the diversification of the adhesive toe pad in lizards.
  4. Among the most specialized integumentary outgrowths in amniotes are the adhesive, scale-like scansors and lamellae on the digits of anoles and geckos. Less well-known are adhesive tail pads exhibited by 21 gecko genera. While described over 120 years ago, no studies have quantified their possible adhesive function or described their embryonic development. Here, we characterize adult and embryonic morphology and adhesive performance of crested gecko ( Correlophus ciliatus ) tail pads. Additionally, we use embryonic data to test whether tail pads are serial homologues to toe pads. External morphology and histology of C . ciliatus tail pads are largely similar to tail pads of closely related geckos. Functionally, C . ciliatus tail pads exhibit impressive adhesive ability, hypothetically capable of holding up to five times their own mass. Tail pads develop at approximately the same time during embryogenesis as toe pads. Further, tail pads exhibit similar developmental patterns to toe pads, which are markedly different from non-adhesive gecko toes and tails. Our data provide support for the serial homology of adhesive tail pads with toe pads.
  5. Studies of the Caribbean herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) have made significant contributions to our knowledge of evolutionary patterns and processes. A prerequisite for these studies are accurate taxonomies and robust phylogenetic hypotheses. One notable Caribbean radiation lacking such data are dwarf geckos of the genus Sphaerodactylus. Systematics of the Puerto Rican Sphaerodactylus have been turbulent since the initial species descriptions and no molecular phylogenies exist that include complete or near-complete taxon sampling. Here, we combine a multi-locus molecular phylogeny with extensive morphological information to investigate the current diversity of Sphaerodactylus geckos from the Puerto Rican Bank, with a large number of species from Hispaniola as an outgroup. In particular, we focus our efforts on resolving the taxonomy of the Sphaerodactylus macrolepis Günther species complex. We find S. macrolepis sensu lato (currently two nominal species with nine subspecies) is made up of at least four diagnosable species within two clades: (1) the sister species Sphaerodactylus macrolepis sensu stricto from the Virgin Islands (including St. Croix) and Culebra, and S. parvus King from islands in the northern Lesser Antilles; and (2) all other Sphaerodactylus macrolepis subspecies from Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra. We resurrect Sphaerodactylus grandisquamis Stejneger from synonymy to refer tomore »all subspecies from Puerto Rico and elevate the subspecies Sphaerodactylus inigoi Thomas & Schwartz for geckos from Vieques and western Culebra. The resulting phylogeny and revised taxonomy will be a useful tool for subsequent research into Sphaerodactylus conservation and evolution.« less