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Evolution. 2008 Jun;62(6):1450-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00370.x. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Allometric space and allometric disparity: a developmental perspective in the macroevolutionary analysis of morphological disparity.

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Université de Bourgogne, UMR CNRS 5561 Biogéosciences, 6 bd Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France.


Here, we advance novel uses of allometric spaces--multidimensional spaces specifically defined by allometric coefficients--with the goal of investigating the focal role of development in shaping the evolution of morphological disparity. From their examination, operational measures of allometric disparity can be derived, complementing standard signals of morphological disparity through an intuitive and process-oriented refinement of established analytical protocols used in disparity studies. Allometric spaces thereby become a promising context to reveal different patterns of evolutionary developmental changes and to assess their relative prevalence and importance. Such spaces offer a novel domain of investigation of phenotypic variation and should help in detecting large-scale trends, thus placing various macroevolutionary phenomena in an explicitly developmental context. Ammonoidea (Cephalopoda) at the Lower-Middle Jurassic transition were chosen as a case study to illustrate this methodological approach. We constructed two phenotypic spaces: a static, adult one (adult morphospace) and a dynamic, developmental one (allometric space). Comparative disparity analyses show a strikingly stable occupation in both spaces, despite extensive change in taxonomic composition. In contrast, disparity analyses of subclades reveal clearly distinct morphological and allometric disparity dynamics. Allometric approaches allow developmental insights into morphological diversification otherwise intractable from the analysis of adult morphospace alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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