Predictability in evolution: Adaptation of the Bonaire anole (Anolis bonairensis) to an extreme environment.
The extent to which evolution is deterministic (predictable), or random, is a fundamental question in evolution. This case study attempts to determine the extent to which interspecific divergence can be predicted from intraspecific trends related species. The mountainous Lesser Antilles are occupied by one or two anole species with very substantial intraspecific differences in the quantitative traits between xeric and rainforest habitats. These ecologically determined differences tend to be in parallel in each island species. A related species (Anolis bonairensis) lives on the far more xeric island of Bonaire, and this study tests the extent to which its interspecific divergence in hue and pattern traits can be predicted from the parallel intraspecific variation exhibited in Lesser Antillean anoles. Regression against a multivariate climate variable suggests that the hue and pattern of the Bonaire anole are consistently predicted from the ecologically determined intraspecific variation of its Lesser Antillean relatives. However, this predictability may be less consistent with other character systems, for example, scalation.