« Islands as model systems for evolutionary biology : Anolis lizards in the Caribbean » Anthony Herrel (Dr. CNRS) – UMR 7179 C.N.R.S/M.N.H.N., Département Adaptations du Vivant – vendredi 12 octobre 2018 à 10h15, amphi Monge
Islands are model systems for evolutionary biology as they are discrete, replicated and often present simple ecosystems allowing to investigate the drivers of phenotypic diversity. Greater Antillean Anolis lizards have long been a model system of evolutionary diversification and adaptive radiation in large part due to the replicated and largely independent evolution of species with specific morphological traits using different microhabitats on each island. Although evolutionary processes often play out over medium to long time scales, recent studies have demonstrated that under certain circumstances animals can rapidly evolve novel phenotypes. Over the past few years we have been using the eradication of invasive mammals (rats, mice, goats) from small islands in the lesser Antilles to test the idea that endemic Anolis lizards will rapidly adapt to 1) the absence of predators by showing behavioural modifications and increases in population density, and 2) the regrowth of plants on currently barren islands. During the course of these studies we also serendipitously witnessed strong selection by extreme climatic events like hurricanes on natural populations. These studies show the usefulness of islands to document rapid evolutionary responses to the harsh conditions that small islands impose on natural populations.