SICB Division of Ecology and Evolution (DEE)

DEE Researchers Database Entry

Peter A. Zani

Linking morphology and performance to fitness
Numerous studies have linked variation in morphology and performance in different biological systems. For instance, limb length covaries with sprint speed across species of lizards. However, demonstrating that this relationship leads to differences in Darwinian fitness within a species has been more elusive. My research attempts to clarify the links in the ecomorphology paradigm by linking variation in morphology and performance directly to estimates of fitness. Using a short-lived reptile, the side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) and a series of experimental field enclosures (each 100 sq.m) in the Great Basin desert of eastern Oregon, I am able to follow the selective fate of known phenotypes (e.g., limb morphology and sprint performance) to determine if these traits are related to reproductive success in nature. Future experimental designs include laboratory manipulations of phenotypes in conjunction with field enclosures to relate the observed and potential variation in lizard ecomorphology to their selective outcome. Experimental tests such as this offer one of the best ways to link morphology, performance, and fitness within species. More information is available at: