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Data from: Evolution of morphological integration in the skull of Carnivora (Mammalia): changes in Canidae lead to increased evolutionary potential of facial traits

Citation

Machado, Fabio Andrade; Zahn, Thiago Macek Gonçalves; Marroig, Gabriel (2018), Data from: Evolution of morphological integration in the skull of Carnivora (Mammalia): changes in Canidae lead to increased evolutionary potential of facial traits, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.142jn5t

Abstract

Morphological integration refers to the fact that different phenotypic traits of organisms are not fully independent from each other, and tend to covary to different degrees. The covariation among traits is thought to reflect properties of the species' genetic architecture and thus can have an impact on evolutionary responses. Furthermore, if morphological integration changes along the history of a group, inferences of past selection regimes might be problematic. Here we evaluated the stability and evolution of the morphological integration of skull traits in Carnivora by using evolutionary simulations and phylogenetic comparative methods. Our results show that carnivoran species are able to respond to natural selection in a very similar way. Our comparative analyses show that the phylogenetic signal for pattern of integration is lower than that observed for morphology (trait averages), and that integration was stable throughout the evolution of the group. That notwithstanding, Canidae differed from other families by having higher integration, evolvability, flexibility and allometric coefficients on the facial region. These changes might have allowed canids to rapidly adapt to different food sources, helping to explain not only the phenotypic diversification of the family, but also why humans were able to generate such a great diversity of dog breeds through artificial selection.

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