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Ecological consequences of ontogenetic changes in head shape and bite performance in the Jamaican lizard Anolis lineatopus

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It has been documented extensively that body size affects the physiology and musculoskeletal function of organisms. However, less well understood is how body size affects the ecology of organisms through its effects on physiology and performance. We explored the effects of body size on morphology and performance in different ontogenetic classes and sexes of a common Anolis lizard (A. lineatopus). Next, we tested whether these morphological and performance differences may affect functional aspects of the diet such as prey size and prey hardness. Our data showed that males, females and juveniles differ significantly in head size, head shape and bite force. Multiple regression models indicated that head shape and bite force are significantly correlated to prey size and hardness. Yet juveniles had relatively large heads and bit disproportionately hard for their size, allowing them to eat prey as large as those of females. However, for a given prey size, males and females ate more robust prey than did juveniles. Additionally, males ate relatively harder prey than did juveniles. These data suggest that: (1) body size affects the dietary ecology of animals through its effect on head size and bite force; (2) changes in head morphology independent of changes in overall size also have important effects on performance and diet. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 89, 443–454.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, B-2610 Antwerpen, Belgium 2: Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 310 Dinwiddie Hall, Tulane University, 70118 New Orleans, USA

Publication date: 2006-11-01

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