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Spring Symposium on UR and Community Engagement has ended
Tuesday, April 24 • 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Constructing A New Phylogenetic Tree To Trace The Evolution Of Ontogenetic Color Change In The Boas (Booidae)

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Ontogenetic color change (OCC) in animals is the irreversible change in coloration occurring as an individual matures and develops from a juvenile to an adult. Because coloration is such an important aspect of the ecology, behavior, and natural history of an animal, OCC is often associated with either a shift in habitat use, diet, or sexual maturity. This trait has been observed across many vertebrate taxa from birds to fishes but has not been studied at all in the boas (Reptilia; superfamily Booidae) despite some dramatic known examples of OCC in this group. We compiled a database of all currently-recognized boa species and assessed whether they exhibit OCC or not using evidence from the primary and secondary literature, photographs of different life stages, and information from breeders. We then aligned genetic sequence data from an 1100 basepair mitochondrial gene sequenced across 90% of boa species (including newly-sequenced species never included in a molecular phylogeny before) and constructed a Bayesian phylogeny for the boas. We then mapped the presence of OCC onto the phylogeny as a binary trait using stochastic character mapping and analyzed whether OCC showed phylogenetic signal by performing a Pagel’s λ test. We also reconstructed ancestral character states (whether or not ancestors were likely to have exhibited OCC) and tested whether OCC evolved according to standard evolutionary models. Our results will provide insight into the evolution of OCC in the boas and allow for further research into the selective pressures that precipitated the evolution of this trait, whether this trait has evolved once or a multitude of times, and how it might affect fitness in some species.

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Tuesday April 24, 2018 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Sherrill Center Concourse

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