ADAPTIVE RADIATIONS, ECOLOGICAL SPECIALIZATION, AND THE EVOLUTIONARY INTEGRATION OF COMPLEX MORPHOLOGICAL STRUCTURES

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Abstract

The evolutionary integration of complex morphological structures is a macroevolutionary pattern in which morphogenetic components evolve in a coordinated fashion, which can result from the interplay among processes of developmental, genetic integration, and different types of selection. We tested hypotheses of ecological versus developmental factors underlying patterns of within-species and evolutionary integration in the mandible of phyllostomid bats, during the most impressive ecological and morphological radiation among mammals. Shape variation of mandibular morphogenetic components was associated with diet, and the transition of integration patterns from developmental to within-species to evolutionary was examined. Within-species (as a proxy to genetic) integration in different lineages resembled developmental integration regardless of diet specialization, however, evolutionary integration patterns reflected selection in different mandibular components. For dietary specializations requiring extensive functional changes in mastication patterns or biting, such as frugivores and sanguivores, the evolutionary integration pattern was not associated with expected within-species or developmental integration. On the other hand, specializations with lower mastication demands or without major functional reorganization (such as nectarivores and carnivores), presented evolutionary integration patterns similar to the expected developmental pattern. These results show that evolutionary integration patterns are largely a result of independent selection on specific components regardless of developmental modules.

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