Skin hydrophobicity as an adaptation for self-cleaning in geckos

Riedel, Jendrian, Vucko, Matthew John, Blomberg, Simone P., and Schwarzkopf, Lin (2020) Skin hydrophobicity as an adaptation for self-cleaning in geckos. Ecology and Evolution, 10 (11). pp. 4640-4651.

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Hydrophobicity is common in plants and animals, typically caused by high relief microtexture functioning to keep the surface clean. Although the occurrence and physical causes of hydrophobicity are well understood, ecological factors promoting its evolution are unclear. Geckos have highly hydrophobic integuments. We predicted that, because the ground is dirty and filled with pathogens, high hydrophobicity should coevolve with terrestrial microhabitat use. Advancing contact-angle (ACA) measurements of water droplets were used to quantify hydrophobicity in 24 species of Australian gecko. We reconstructed the evolution of ACA values, in relation to microhabitat use of geckos. To determine the best set of structural characteristics associated with the evolution of hydrophobicity, we used linear models fitted using phylogenetic generalized least squares (PGLS), and then model averaging based on AIC(c) values. All species were highly hydrophobic (ACA > 132.72 degrees), but terrestrial species had significantly higher ACA values than arboreal ones. The evolution of longer spinules and smaller scales was correlated with high hydrophobicity. These results suggest that hydrophobicity has coevolved with terrestrial microhabitat use in Australian geckos via selection for long spinules and small scales, likely to keep their skin clean and prevent fouling and disease.

Item ID: 63029
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: ancestral state reconstruction, contact angle, ecomorphology, evolution, Gekkota, hydrophobic surface properties, integument, phylogenetic generalized least squares
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Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following [PhD] thesis: Riedel, Nils Jendrian (2020) Evolution and ecological adaptations of microornamentation in Australian geckos (Gekkota, Squamata). PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 07:32
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310908 Animal physiology - biophysics @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310303 Ecological physiology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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