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Data from: Imperfect morphological convergence: variable changes in cranial structures underlie transitions to durophagy in moray eels

Citation

Collar, David C. et al. (2014), Data from: Imperfect morphological convergence: variable changes in cranial structures underlie transitions to durophagy in moray eels, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.h9r37

Abstract

Convergence is central to the study of evolution because it demonstrates the power of natural selection to deterministically shape phenotypic diversity. However, the conditions under which a common morphology repeatedly evolves may be restrictive. Many factors—such as differing genetic and environmental backgrounds and many-to-one mapping of form to function—contribute to variability in responses to selection. Nevertheless, lineages may evolve similar, even if not identical, forms given a shared selective regime, providing opportunities to examine the relative importance of natural selection, constraint and contingency. Here, we show that following 10 transitions to durophagy in moray eels (Muraenidae), cranial morphology repeatedly evolved toward a novel region of morphological space indicative of enhanced feeding performance on hard prey. Disparity among the resulting 15 durophagous species, however, is greater than disparity among ancestors that fed on large evasive prey, contradicting the pattern expected under convergence. This elevated disparity is a consequence of lineage-specific responses to durophagy, in which independent transitions vary in the suites of traits exhibiting the largest changes. Our results reveal a pattern of imperfect convergence, which suggests shared selection may actually promote diversification because lineages often differ in their phenotypic responses to similar selective demands.

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