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Murine locomotion and diversification

Cite this dataset

Nations, Jonathan (2022). Murine locomotion and diversification [Dataset]. Dryad.


The relationship between organismal function and form is a cornerstone of biology because functional diversity is key to generating and maintaining ecological diversity. Morphological changes often occur in unison with behavioral or ecological transitions, and this process may foster diversification, but alternately could trap a species on an adaptive peak. We estimated the most comprehensive phylogenetic hypothesis of Murinae, a young (~15 My) and diverse (~700 species) clade of mammals. We then tested for correlated evolution among four morphological traits with potential links to locomotor modes (Arboreal, General, Terrestrial, and Amphibious), then investigated the effects of locomotion on morphological and lineage diversification. We found unique combinations of trait values for each locomotor mode, including strong covariance between the tail and hind foot lengths of specialized Arboreal and ecologically flexible General species. Low diversification rates and long branch lengths suggest that specialized lineages represent stable evolutionary “cul-de-sacs”. General species, characterized by the classic “rat-like” body plan and broad locomotor abilities, have narrow optimal trait values and slow phenotypic evolution, but high lineage diversification rates. Our findings suggest that versatile, generalist forms act as seeds of species diversity and morphological specialization, which together build ecologically diverse radiations.Muri


All data were collcted by authors and all analyses performed in R or RevBayes.

Usage notes

All data and scripts for all analyses are included in this Dryad repository. Please see for useage instructions.


National Science Foundation, Award: Graduate Research Fellowship

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1754393

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-1441634