Evolutionary integration and morphological diversification in complex morphological structures: mandible shape divergence in spiny rats (Rodentia, Echimyidae)

Authors

  • Leandro R. Monteiro,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratório de Ciências Ambientais-CBB, Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Av. Alberto Lamego, 2000, 28013-600 Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, Brazil
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  • Vinícius Bonato,

    1. Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Caixa Postal 6109, 13083-970 Campinas, SP, Brazil
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  • Sérgio F. Dos Reis

    1. Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Caixa Postal 6109, 13083-970 Campinas, SP, Brazil
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*Author for correspondence (email: lrmont@uenf.br)

Abstract

Summary The rodent mandible has become a paradigm for studies on the development and evolution of complex morphological structures. We use a combination of geometric and multivariate morphometric methods in order to assess the correspondence between integration patterns and a priori biological models in the context of evolutionary shape divergence in the mandible of rodents of the family Echimyidae. The correlation of shape distances among operational taxonomic units (individuals, species, genera) in separate morphogenetic components allowed the construction of integration matrices among mandible components for data sets corresponding to varying levels of genetic divergence (intergeneric, interspecific, and intrapopulational). The integration matrices were associated with a priori biological (developmental, genetical, modular) models, and the maximum integration axes (singular warps) were compared with realized axes of maximum interspecific variation (relative warps). The integration pattern and intensity were not stable in data sets with different levels of genetic divergence, and the varying functional demands during the ecological radiation in the family were probably responsible for the differences in observed integration patterns. Developmental and genetic models were significantly associated with the interspecific integration patterns observed, suggesting a role for neutral evolution during the evolutionary divergence of mandible shape. However, directional and stabilizing selection were not discarded as processes responsible for the generation of interspecific integration. The choreography of the morphogenetic components in the mandible is highly flexible and the integrated groups of components can be reorganized depending on functional demands during evolutionary shape changes.

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