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Free Content Morphological differentiation correlates with ecological but not with genetic divergence in a Gehyra gecko

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Body size affects life history, the ecological niche of an organism and its interactions with other organisms. Resultantly, marked differences in body size between related organisms are often an indication of a species boundary. This is particularly evident in the Gehyra variegata species complex of geckos, which displays differential body sizes between genetically divergent species, but high levels of intraspecific morphological conservatism. We report on a Gehyra population that displays extraordinary body size differentiation in comparison with other G.┬ávariegata species. We used morphological and environmental data to show this population is phenotypically and ecologically distinct from its parapatric congener Gehyra lazelli and that morphology and ecology are significantly correlated. Contrastingly, mtDNA analysis indicates paraphyly between the two groups, and allele frequencies at six microsatellite loci show no population structure concordant with morpho‐/ecotype. These results suggest either ecological speciation or environmentally induced phenotypic polymorphism, in an otherwise morphologically conservative group.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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