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Topographically distinct adaptive landscapes for teeth, skeletons, and size explain the adaptive radiation of Carnivora (Mammalia)

Citation

Slater, Graham (2022), Topographically distinct adaptive landscapes for teeth, skeletons, and size explain the adaptive radiation of Carnivora (Mammalia), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tdz08kq24

Abstract

Models of adaptive radiation were originally developed to explain the early, rapid appearance of distinct modes of life within diversifying clades. Phylogenetic tests of this hypothesis have yielded limited support for temporally declining rates of phenotypic evolution across diverse clades, but the concept of an adaptive landscape that links form to fitness, while also crucial to these models, has received more limited attention. Using methods that assess the temporal accumulation of morphological variation and estimate the topography of the underlying adaptive landscape, I found evidence of an early partitioning of craniodental morphological variation in Carnivora (Mammalia) that occurs on an adaptive landscape with multiple peaks, consistent with classic ideas about adaptive radiation. Although strong support for this mode of adaptive radiation is present in traits related to diet, its signal is not present in body mass data or for traits related to locomotor behavior and substrate use. These findings suggest that adaptive radiations may occur along some axes of ecomorphological variation without leaving a signal in others and that their dynamics are more complex than simple univariate tests might suggest.

Methods

Measurement data were collected from museum specimens using digital calipers to 0.01 mm precision, or using a rule to 1mm precision for measurements > 200mm.

Measurements were processed using R scripts.

Funding