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Testing for phylogenetic signal in claws suggests great influence of ecology on Caribbean intertidal arthropods (Acari, Oribatida)

Citation

Kerschbaumer, Michaela; Pfingstl, Tobias (2021), Testing for phylogenetic signal in claws suggests great influence of ecology on Caribbean intertidal arthropods (Acari, Oribatida), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.44j0zpcc4

Abstract

Claws are common biological attachment devices that can be found in a wide variety of animal groups. Their curvature and size are supposed to be parameters related to ecological aspects. Mites, known as very small arthropods, occupy a wide range of ecological niches and are a perfect model system to investigate correlations of claw morphology with ecology. There is only one study regarding this question in littoral mites but the phylogenetic impact, which plays an important role in the evolution of morphological traits, was not tested. We investigated claw shapes of different Caribbean populations of five species showing different substrate/habitat preferences. We used geometric morphometrics to quantify claw shape and tested for phylogenetic signal within this morphological trait. Even in closely related populations, we found clear claw shapes for hard versus soft substrate, confirming previous findings. Surprisingly, we found no phylogenetic signal within the trait, which demonstrates that ecology (different surfaces and substrates) has acted as one of the primary selective forces in the diversification of claw shapes. Considering that the basic claw design may be the same in the majority of arthropods, our results have important implications for further investigations of claw morphology and its ecological relevance within this phylum.

Funding

Austrian Science Fund, Award: P33869

Austrian Science Fund, Award: P28597