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Dragons of the trees, the rocks, and the ground: the evolution of skull shape in the Australian dragon lizards (Lepidosauria: Agamidae) Event as iCalendar

17 June 2019

1 - 2pm

Venue: Mac 1 Biology Building

Location: 5 Symonds St

Host: SBS

Contact info: Greg Howell

Contact email: g.holwell@auckland.ac.nz

Speaker: Dr Jaimi Gray, School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide; School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland


Morphological disparity can be generated during adaptive radiations in response to factors such as new resources, freedom from competition, and an absence of predators and pathogens. The oldest ancestor of the extant Australian radiation of agamid lizards (Amphibolurinae) arrived in Australia from Southeast Asia approximately 30 million years ago. Since then, Australian agamids have become a species-rich and ecologically diverse clade. Today, they are comprised of around 108 species distributed among every Australian habitat, and are particularly successful in arid environments.

While knowledge of their taxonomic diversity and phylogenetic relationships is sound, their morphological diversity remains largely unexplored. Despite being such a taxonomically and ecologically diverse clade, their adaptive character has not been explicitly tested. Here, Dr Gray and colleagues used three-dimensional geometric morphometrics to characterise skull shape in Australian agamids and their Asian agamid relatives (Draconinae), and investigate the association between skull shape and ecological life habit. They found that in addition to phylogenetic affinity and evolutionary allometry, ecological factors play a major role in skull shape evolution of this clade, confirming their adaptive character. In this seminar, Dr Gray will explore her findings.

For more information contact Greg Howell: g.holwell@auckland.ac.nz