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Has territoriality shaped the evolution of demographic and morphological traits in gladiator frogs (genus Boana)?

Grant number: 22/02040-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2022
Effective date (End): February 15, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Marcio Roberto Costa Martins
Grantee:Ricardo Luría Manzano
Supervisor: Claude Miaud
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle & Evolutive (CEFE), France  
Associated to the scholarship:20/10189-7 - Ecological, evolutionary, and conservation correlates of aggression and territoriality in selected lineages of Neotropical hylid frogs, BP.DR


In species with territorial behavior involving physical combats, many morphological and behavioral traits provide an advantage during these disputes, and this behavior in turn incurs in several individual costs. These phenomena may cause territoriality to coevolve or to be evolutionarily traded-off against other traits, such that it may shape their evolutionary trajectories. However, this behavior has been little studied at a macroevolutionary scale. In this project, we will investigate how the intensity of physical combats associated with territorial defense has shaped the evolutionary trajectories of particular morphological structures (head, prepollical spine and limbs), demographic traits (longevity and body growth) and ultimately sexual size dimorphism, using as model the anuran genus Boana, the so-called gladiator frogs. For this purpose, we will consider specimens of a representative sample of species of Boana deposited in herpetological collections in Brazil, from which we will take morphological measurements, operational variables for intensity of territorial defense, and finally cut toes for further analyses. These toes will be processed and analyzed following the technique of skeletochronology during the international exchange in France, to obtain the demographic traits for this study. We will use phylogenetic comparative methods, such as phylogenetic principal component analyses and phylogenetic generalized least squares regressions (PGLS), to summarize interspecific variation in the size of the morphological structures analyzed and to test if the intensity of territorial defense is related to the size of these structures, demographic traits and sexual size dimorphism across species in the genus. In the PGLS, we will consider two evolutionary models, and test which of them fits better to the data using a selection model approach.

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