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Effects of developmental and functional interactions on mouse cranial variability through late ontogeny

Authors

  • Katherine Elizabeth Willmore,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medical Sciences, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
      *Author for correspondence (email: kew20@psu.edu)
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    • 1Present address: Department of Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 409 Carpenter Building, University Park, PA 16803, USA.

  • Larry Leamy,

    1. Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, 28223, USA
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  • Benedikt Hallgrímsson

    1. Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 4N1
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*Author for correspondence (email: kew20@psu.edu)

Abstract

SUMMARY The mammalian skull performs a variety of functions and its growth and development mirrors this complexity. Cranial growth and development have been actively studied for many years. Despite this interest, the variation in the patterns and processes of skull growth has attracted little attention. An important and unanswered question is the extent to which patterns of cranial covariation and variation are dynamically reworked throughout postnatal growth. To address this question, we examine patterns of variability in random-bred mouse skulls aged 35, 90, and 150 days. Using a battery of both Procrustes coordinate and Euclidean distance-based methods, we measure mean shape, canalization, developmental stability, and morphological integration in these skulls. We predict that the patterns of variability are dynamic, particularly between the youngest and the two oldest age groups due to the influence of functional effects such as postweaning mastication. We also hypothesize that patterns of variability are structured by the same functional and developmental factors that have been shown to influence cranial growth in primates. Our results indicate that contrary to our predictions, patterns of canalization, developmental stability, and morphological integration are stabilized before 35 days. The mean shape, however, changed significantly with growth. We found that only the facial region showed significant integration as predicted by the functional matrix model used in other studies of integration. These results indicate that phenotypic integration in these mice does not closely match those found for primate species, suggesting that comparisons between species should be made with care.

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