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Data from: Testing the evolutionary constraints of metamorphosis: the ontogeny of head shape in Triturus newts

Citation

Vučić, Tijana et al. (2019), Data from: Testing the evolutionary constraints of metamorphosis: the ontogeny of head shape in Triturus newts, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j9c34j6

Abstract

In vertebrates with complex, biphasic, life cycles, larvae have a distinct morphology and ecological preferences compared to metamorphosed juveniles and adults. In amphibians, abrupt and rapid metamorphic changes transform aquatic larvae to terrestrial juveniles. The main aim of this study is to test whether, relative to larval stages, metamorphosis 1) resets the pattern of variation between ontogenetic stages and species; 2) constrains intraspecific morphological variability, and 3) similar to the “hour-glass” model, reduces morphological disparity. We explore postembryonic ontogenetic trajectories of head shape (from hatching to completed metamorphosis) of two well-defined, morphologically distinct Triturus newts species and their F1 hybrids. Variation in head shape is quantified and compared on two levels: dynamic (across ontogenetic stages) and static (at a particular stage). Our results show that the ontogenetic trajectories diverge early during development and continue to diverge throughout larval stages and metamorphosis. The high within-group variance and the largest disparity level (between-group variance) characterize the metamorphosed stage. Hence, our results indicate that metamorphosis does not canalize head shape variation generated during larval development and that metamorphosed phenotype is not more constrained relative to larval ones. Therefore, metamorphosis cannot be regarded as a developmental constraint, at least not for salamander head shape.

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