HOW SPECIES LONGEVITY, INTRASPECIFIC MORPHOLOGICAL VARIATION, AND GEOGRAPHIC RANGE SIZE ARE RELATED: A COMPARISON USING LATE CAMBRIAN TRILOBITES

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Abstract

Phenotypic variation is fundamental to evolutionary change. Variation not only evinces the connectivity of populations but it is also associated with the adaptability and evolvability of taxa. Despite the potential importance of morphological variation in structuring evolutionary patterns, little is known about how relative differences in intraspecific morphological variation and its geographic structure are linked to differences in species longevity. This study offers a novel combination of analyses that reveal the quantitative relationships among intraspecific variation, geographic range size and duration in the fossil record using late Cambrian trilobites. Results show that geographic range size and duration are positively correlated. Surprisingly, longer lived species tend to have less intraspecific variation. Phylogenetic effects were also explored and found not to determine the association between these variables. However, the distribution of geographic range sizes shows strong phylogenetic signal. In light of previous work, one possible explanation for these results is that species with shorter durations have comparatively higher rates of morphological evolution, reflected in higher phenotypic variation overall.

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