The Muñoz Lab made a splash at Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference in Tampa, Florida, this year was eventful with five talks and Martha organizing a symposium!
Martha Muñoz presented work on a recent project, with Jhan Salazar and colleagues from Universidad Icesi, investigating the island effect with regards to rates and patterns of evolution through the lens of thermal physiological trait diversity. Due to ecological opportunity, island lineages are well known for fast rates of trait evolution. Surprisingly, however, they discovered slower rates of heat tolerance evolution in the island lineages. Moreover, island anoles are evolving towards higher trait optima. The results are largely explained by greater thermoregulation on islands. Despite island and mainland anoles occurring in similar thermal environments, island lizards thermoregulate more. The major result from this study is that ecological opportunity (release from predators and competitors) on islands can reduce the intrinsic costs of thermoregulation. The surprising result, therefore, is that ecological opportunity may actually slow, rather than accelerate, trait evolution!
Post-doc Vincent Farallo presented work, co-authored by Martha, in the behavioral physiology session on the importance of incorporating physiology and behavior when assessing how species, especially montane endemics, will be impacted by climate change. Their research focused on anoles from the island of Hispaniola and showed that, when incorporating behavior and physiology, montane endemic species will increase potential activity time under climate change. However, their widespread competitor will also see increased activity, indicating the montane endemics are still likely at risk, but not directly from warming temperatures. Understanding the mechanism of species decline will be critical for mitigating the impacts of climate change. The lab will be expanding on this topic, focusing on montane endemic plethodontid salamanders, during 2019 and beyond.
Henry Camarillo, Ph.D. student, presented some of his Master’s research examining the role of morphology on performance in fish from hydrogen sulfide streams. Henry measured escape performance, steady swimming performance, and gill ventilation between populations of fish from sulfidic and nonsulfidic streams. Fish from nonsulfidic populations were better at escape swimming and had higher gill ventilation frequency. Fish from sulfidic populations were more energy efficient swimmers and performed better at steady swimming. In addition, I found that there are functional trade-offs between escape performance and swimming performance as well as functional facilitation between escape performance and gill ventilation frequency. Correlation between morphology and performance was found in females, but not in males.
Brooke Bodensteiner (Ph.D. student) presented her talk, co-authored by Martha, in the Division of Phylogenetics and Comparative Biology Best Student Presentation (the Wake Award) examining the pattern and temporal dynamics of adaptive radiation in Hispaniolan anoles. Specifically examining the diversification along structural habitat niche and thermal physiological niche. Finding that patterns of physiological and morphological evolution are distinct, such that ecomorphs do not cluster together in physiological trait space. We propose that the exceptional diversity of Caribbean anoles may be driven by the combined influence of physiological and morphological evolution, and that physiological divergence along environmental gradients are an equally important, though less appreciated, aspect of adaptive radiation.