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Evolution. 2008 Dec;62(12):3135-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00519.x. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Continuous and arrested morphological diversification in sister clades of characiform fishes: a phylomorphospace approach.

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National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA.


Understanding how and why certain clades diversify greatly in morphology whereas others do not remains a major theme in evolutionary biology. Projecting families of phylogenies into multivariate morphospaces can distinguish two scenarios potentially leading to unequal morphological diversification: unequal magnitude of change per phylogenetic branch, and unequal efficiency in morphological innovation. This approach is demonstrated using a case study of skulls in sister clades within the South American fish superfamily Anostomoidea. Unequal morphological diversification in this system resulted not from the morphologically diverse clade changing more on each phylogenetic branch, but from that clade distributing an equal amount of change more widely through morphospace and innovating continually. Although substantial morphological evolution occurred throughout the less diverse clade's history, most of that clade's expansion in morphospace occurred in the most basal branches, and more derived portions of that radiation oscillated within previously explored limits. Because simulations revealed that there is a maximum 2.7% probability of generating two clades that differ so greatly in the density of lineages within morphospace under a null Brownian model, the observed difference in pattern likely reflects a difference in the underlying evolutionary process. Clade-specific factors that may have promoted or arrested morphological diversification are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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