Estimating ancestral habitats and phenotypic evolution of Sceloporus lizards
Phylogenetic niche modeling is a powerful tool that can help us understand phenotypic evolution and lineage diversification. Here, I synthesize phylogenetics, occurrence data, fossil data, comparative methods, and niche modeling to estimate how species are distributed over space and time. Then, I take a “big data” approach to describe how Sceloporus lizards and their phenotypic traits are presently distributed across the Americas and within complex species assemblages. I use CT scans to get detailed morphological measure and correlate nuanced differences in skull morphology to ecological and behavioral factors. Last, I take a functional approach to study morphological differences between populations of Sceloporus lizards and conduct performance tests to determine if the underlying population differences have an adaptive basis.