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Data from: Metabolic physiology explains macroevolutionary trends in the melanic colour system across amniotes

Citation

Eliason, Chad M.; Clarke, Julia A. (2018), Data from: Metabolic physiology explains macroevolutionary trends in the melanic colour system across amniotes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qv871g8

Abstract

Metabolism links organisms to their environment through its effects on thermoregulation, feeding behaviour, and energetics. Genes involved in metabolic processes have known pleiotropic effects on some melanic colour traits. Understanding links between physiology and melanic colour is critical for understanding the role of, and potential constraints on, colour production. Despite considerable variation in metabolic rates and presumed ancestral melanic colouration in vertebrates, few studies have looked at a potential relationship between these two systems in a comparative framework. Here, we test the hypothesis that changes in melanosome shape in integumentary structures track metabolic rate variation across amniotes. Using multivariate comparative analyses and incorporating both extant and fossil taxa, we find significantly faster rates of melanosome shape evolution in taxa with high metabolic rates, as well as both colour- and clade-specific differences in the relationship between metabolic rate and melanosome shape. Phylogenetic tests recover an expansion in melanosome morphospace in maniraptoran dinosaurs, as well as rate shifts within birds (in songbirds) and mammals. These findings indicate another core phenotype influenced by metabolic changes in vertebrates. They also provide a framework for testing clade-specific gene expression patterns in the melanocortin system, and may improve colour reconstructions in extinct taxa.

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