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Data from: Correlated evolution of body and fin morphology in the cichlid fishes

Cite this dataset

Feilich, Kara L. (2016). Data from: Correlated evolution of body and fin morphology in the cichlid fishes [Dataset]. Dryad.


Body and fin shape are chief determinants of swimming performance in fishes. Different configurations of body and fin shape can suit different locomotor specializations. The success of any configuration is dependent upon the hydrodynamic interactions between body and fins. Despite the importance of body-fin interactions for swimming, there are few data indicating whether body and fin configurations evolve in concert, or whether these structures vary independently. The cichlid fishes are a diverse family whose well-studied phylogenetic relationships make them ideal for the study of macroevolution of ecomorphology. This study measured body, caudal and median fin morphology from radiographs of 131 cichlid genera, using morphometrics and phylogenetic comparative methods to determine whether these traits exhibit correlated evolution. Partial least squares canonical analysis revealed that body, caudal fin, dorsal fin, and anal fin shapes all exhibited strong correlated evolution consistent with locomotor ecomorphology. Major patterns included the evolution of deep body profiles with long fins, suggestive of maneuvering specialization; and the evolution of narrow, elongate caudal peduncles with concave tails, a combination that characterizes economical cruisers. These results demonstrate that body shape evolution does not occur independently of other traits, but among a suite of other morphological changes that augment locomotor specialization.

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