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Title: Thermal melanism explains macroevolutionary variation of dorsal pigmentation in Eurasian vipers.
Author: Martínez-Freiría, Fernando
Toyama, Ken S.
Freitas, Inês
Kaliontzopoulou, Antigoni
Keywords: Serps
Issue Date: 30-Sep-2020
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Abstract: Colouration may endorse thermoregulatory and antipredatory functions in snakes. The thermal melanism hypothesis predicts that dark-coloured individuals are ecologically favoured in cool climates. However, the loss of aposematic and cryptic colourations may imply high predation for melanistic snakes. Here, we used the monophyletic group of Eurasian vipers (subfamily Viperinae) to test whether an increase in the extent of dark area inside the characteristic zigzag dorsal pattern is associated to colder environments. We measured two colouration traits in zigzag-patterned individuals (number of dorsal marks and weighted pigmentation index) and used a phylogenetic comparative approach to explore macroevolutionary patterns of dorsal pigmentation and test whether its extent is associated to ecogeographic characteristics of lineages' ranges. Phylogeneticallynaïve and phylogenetically-informed analyses yielded a signifcant association between the degree of pigmentation of the zigzag pattern and environmental variables such as solar radiation, elevation and latitude. The degree of pigmentation of the zigzag pattern is highlighted as an adaptive trait that matches range attributes mirroring cold environments irrespective of the phylogeny. These results constitute the frst large-scale evidence supporting the thermal melanism hypothesis in snakes, opening new avenues of inquiry for the mechanisms that shape the evolution of colour phenotypes.
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It is part of: Scientific Reports, 2020, vol. 10, num. 16122, p. 1-10
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ISSN: 2045-2322
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals)

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