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Indices of Anseriform body shape based on the relative size of major skeletal elements and their relationship to reproductive effort



To assess whether relative clutch mass (RCM) in Anseriformes (wildfowl or waterfowl) is constrained by body shape, principal components (PCs) of size-adjusted measurements of five major skeletal elements of adult males and females of 60 species of Anseriformes provided indices of body shape. PC1 accounted for 69.8% of the variance and contrasted anterior elements (cranium and sternum) to posterior elements (synsacrum, femur and tibiotarsus). PC1 scores were high in species with a ‘duck-like’ body shape and low in those with a ‘goose-like’ body shape. Over the phylogeny of Anseriformes, decreased PC1 scores were associated with feeding on land. PC2 accounted for 18.6% of the variance and contrasted core elements (sternum and synsacrum) with peripheral elements (cranium, femur and tibiotarsus). High PC2 scores were associated with dependence on animal food, particularly in diving species. PC3 accounted for 7.7% of the variance and reflected mainly the relative size of the femur, which was low in diving species. Controlling statistically for phylogenetically independent contrasts in female body shape, there was a significant positive partial correlation between RCM and PC1, suggesting that independent of body size, body shape imposes constraints on reproductive effort in Anseriformes. The results suggest that models of the evolution of reproductive effort in this order, and perhaps in other orders, of birds should control for the effects of body shape.