Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Are developmental shifts the main driver of phenotypic evolution in Diplodus spp. (Perciformes: Sparidae)?


Colangelo, Paolo et al. (2019), Data from: Are developmental shifts the main driver of phenotypic evolution in Diplodus spp. (Perciformes: Sparidae)?, Dryad, Dataset,


Background: Sparid fishes of the genus Diplodus show a complex life history. Juveniles have adaptations well suited to life in the water column. When fishes recruit into the adult population individuals develop a radically differentiated shape that reflect their adaptation to the new benthic environment typical of the adult. By using a geometric morphometric approach, we investigated the pattern of shape variation across ontogenetic stages that span from early settlement to the adult stage in four species of the genus Diplodus. Landmarks were collected on the whole body of fishes to quantify the phenotypic variation along two well defined life stages, i.e. juvenile and adult. A comparative analysis of ontogenetic trajectories was performed to assess the presence of divergence in the developmental pattern. Subsequently, we investigated the patterns of integration and modularity as proxy of the alteration of the developmental processes. This allowed to have an insight in morphological developmental patterns across ecologically and ontogenetically differentiated life stages and to investigate the process leading to the adult shape. Results: Our results suggest that the origin of morphological novelties in Diplodus spp. arise from shifts of the ontogenetic trajectories during the development. During the settlement phase, juvenile’s morphological shapes converge towards close regions of the morphospace. When the four species approach the transition between settlement and recruitment we observe the lowest level of inter- and intra-specific disparity. After this transition we detect an abrupt shift of ontogenetic trajectories, i.e. the path taken by species during development, that led to highly divergent adult phenotypes. Discussion: We suggest that the evolution of new ecomorphologies, better suited to exploit different niches and reduce inter-specific competition in Diplodus spp., are related to the shift in the ontogenetic trajectory that in turn is associated to changes in modularity and integration pattern.

Usage Notes


Giglio Island