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Colour-polymorphic snake species are older
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
Many characteristics, for example life-history traits, physiological tolerance to heat and cold, and energy requirements, contribute to a population's ability to persist in the face of climatic variation. Recent studies have suggested that the presence of intraspecific colour polymorphism could be another potential contributor to population resilience (e.g. to climate change) in ectothermic vertebrates such as reptiles. In the present study, we tested for a relationship between the presence of intraspecific colour polymorphism and the age of snake species. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, we demonstrate that the presence of intraspecific colour polymorphism is correlated with the age of a species, with polymorphic snake species being significantly older than monomorphic species. Understanding how species have dealt with past environmental modifications, such as climate change, can provide important insights into how they are likely to respond in the future to ongoing climate warming.
climate change, colour polymorphism, intraspecific diversification, molecular dating, reptile
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