Ecomorphological patterns related to migration: a comparative osteological study with passerines


All correspondence to: Eulalia Moreno, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, CSIC, General Segura 1, E-04001 Almería, Spain. E-mail:


An analysis of forelimb and hindlimb skeletal morphology of 15 passerine genera was performed to investigate the likely existence of an ecomorphological pattern relating morphology to migratory behaviour. Each genus was represented by a pair of species, one being sedentary and another migrant. Using a phylogenetic comparative method we found migrant species having longer sternum, deeper keel and longer coracoids than non-migrant species. Hindlimb morphology was not related to migration. These results are interpreted as adaptations for migrants favouring flight ability, as the larger the sternum and the coracoids the greater the surface available for attachment of the main muscles involved in active flight.