Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Statistics
Journal or Book Title
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Background: Rates of morphological evolution vary across different taxonomic groups, and this has been proposed as one of the main drivers for the great diversity of organisms on Earth. Of the extrinsic factors pertaining to this variation, ecological hypotheses feature prominently in observed differences in phenotypic evolutionary rates across lineages. But complex organisms are inherently modular, comprising distinct body parts that can be differentially affected by external selective pressures. Thus, the evolution of trait covariation and integration in modular systems may also play a prominent role in shaping patterns of phenotypic diversity. Here we investigate the role ecological diversity plays in morphological integration, and the tempo of shell shape evolution and of directional asymmetry in bivalved scallops.
Results: Overall, the shape of both valves and the magnitude of asymmetry of the whole shell (difference in shape between valves) are traits that are evolving fast in ecomorphs under strong selective pressures (gliders, recessers and nestling), compared to low rates observed in other ecomorphs (byssal-attaching, free-living and cementing). Given that different parts of an organism can be under different selective pressures from the environment, we also examined the degree of evolutionary integration between the valves as it relates to ecological shifts. We find that evolutionary morphological integration is consistent and surprisingly high across species, indicating that while the left and right valves of a scallop shell are diversifying in accordance with ecomorphology, they are doing so in a concerted fashion.
Conclusions: Our study on scallops adds another strong piece of evidence that ecological shifts play an important role in the tempo and mode of morphological evolution. Strong selective pressures from the environment, inferred from the repeated evolution of distinct ecomorphs, have influenced the rate of morphological evolution in valve shape and the magnitude of asymmetry between valves. Our observation that morphological integration of the valves making up the shell is consistently strong suggests tight developmental pathways are responsible for the concerted evolution of these structures while environmental pressures are driving whole shell shape. Finally, our study shows that directional asymmetry in shell shape among species is an important aspect of scallop macroevolution.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Sherratt, Emma; Serb, Jeanne M.; and Adams, Dean C., "Rates of morphological evolution, asymmetry and morphological integration of shell shape in scallops" (2017). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 258.