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Professor Heather Cunningham

Lab Report
Lizard Evolution

By Alan Ibanez-Gallegos

The more than 700 islands of the Caribbean are home to about 150 species of anoles, a group
of lizards of the genus ​
Anolis.​These lizards live in diverse habitats and vary greatly in size
and other physical characteristics, such as leg and tail length and skin color and pattern.

Species of Caribbean anoles can be categorized into groups, called ecomorphs, according to
their body characteristics (morphology) and the ecological niches they occupy. Analysis of the
DNA sequences of certain genes reveals the evolutionary relationships among different anole


1. Module 1
We first grouped lizards based on their general appearance using photographs. Then
took measurements of the lizards' hindlimb, body, and tail length using x-ray images,
and counted the number of toepad lamellae using photographs. The techniques used
to take these measurements are based on those used by scientists working in the field.

2. Module 2
In this section, we used DNA sequences from the eight anole species measured in
Module 1 to determine their evolutionary relationships. The sequences are from a
segment of mitochondrial DNA including the NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 (​
gene and five tRNA genes. These type of genes do not play a role in determining the

traits measured in Module 1 but are useful for determining evolutionary relationships.
We generate a phylogenetic tree and look for patterns in evolutionary relationships.

3. Module 3
In Module 3, we performed an experiment to test whether changes in habitat can
result in the evolution of different traits in a group of lizards. We measured hindlimb
length in two groups of 10 anoles from the same original population that are now
living in two different habitats. Calculated the mean hindlimb length, standard
deviation, and standard error of the mean for each group of lizards and graph the
results to determine whether there is a difference between the two groups.

4. Module 4
In this module, we measured the dewlap colors of two different species of lizards that
live on the island of Puerto Rico. Collected quantitative data and then calculated
means, standard deviations, and standard error of the means.



Table 1. These are the measurements recorded in Module 1 compared with the given
reference measurements.

Table 2. Phylogenetic tree completed using the DNA sequence given in Module 2.


Table 3. These are the results from the data gathered in Module 3 as well as given reference

Table 4. Hindlimb length sample mean, sample SD, SEM, and 95% CI caculations.

We concluded that due to natural selection, anoles have specific traits that benefit their
specific ranges. Also, convergent evolution plays a part in this. Populations adapt in similar
ways when they are faced with similar challenges. Different island speciation can follow
predictable evolutionary patterns. Different traits arise to fully adapt to different
environments. This leads to different speciation. At last, we learned that due to reproductive
isolation, different species adapt to specific niches in their respective environments without
the need to fight.