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Data from: Constraints on geographic variation in fiddler crabs (Ocypodidae: Uca) from the western Atlantic

Cite this dataset

Hopkins, Melanie J.; Haber, Annat; Thurman, Carl L (2016). Data from: Constraints on geographic variation in fiddler crabs (Ocypodidae: Uca) from the western Atlantic [Dataset]. Dryad.


A key question in evolutionary biology is how intraspecific variation biases the evolution of a population and its divergence from other populations. Such constraints potentially limit the extent to which populations respond to selection, but may endure long enough to have macroevolutionary consequences. Previous studies have focused on the association between covariation patterns and divergence among isolated populations. Few have focused on geographic variation among semi-connected populations, however, even though this may be indicative of early selective pressures that could lead to long-term divergence and speciation. Here, we test whether covariation in the shape of the carapace of fiddler crabs (genus Uca Leach, 1814) is important for structuring geographic variation. We find that morphological divergence among populations is associated with evolvability in the direction of divergence in only a few species. The shape of the ancestral covariation matrix in these species differs from other species in having notably more variation concentrated along fewer directions (i.e., higher eccentricity). For most species, there is some evidence that covariation has constrained the range of directions into which populations have diverged but not the degree of divergence. These results suggest that even though fiddler crab populations have diverged morphologically in directions predicted by covariation, constraints on the extent to which divergence has occurred may only be manifested in species where variation patterns are eccentric enough to limit populations’ ability to respond effectively in many directions.

Usage notes


western Atlantic