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Biological Sciences


Urbanization is accelerating worldwide and creates novel habitat conditions including increases in environmental temperature and changes in presence and abundance of predators, prey and parasites. For species that use urban habitats, these changes can have strong impacts on phenotypes. Anolis lizards commonly exploit urban habitats and, as ectotherms, are likely to experience pressures from these novel environments. Previous research shows that anoles may adapt to some aspects of urban habitats, but we lack an understanding of the breadth of traits that may shift in response to urbanization and how widespread these changes may be. To assess effects of urban habitat use on anole phenotypes, we measured morphology, thermal preference and parasitism in brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) and crested anoles (Anolis cristatellus) from urban and natural habitats within the Miami metropolitan area (FL, USA). In urban areas, individuals of both species were larger, but did not show any differences in preferred body temperatures. These results agree with other studies showing increased body size in anoles inhabiting urban areas, but the mechanisms underlying this pattern are unclear. Brown anoles experienced higher levels of parasite infection intensity in urban habitats, but crested anoles showed no differences between urban and natural sites. Increased infection intensity in urban brown anoles suggests that exploiting urban habitats may have costs and shows that urbanization can lead to species-specific changes in ecologically similar congeners. Understanding how urban habitats alter phenotypes of organisms that exploit these areas will be important in predicting costs of and adaptive responses to future urbanization.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License