Morphological Integration and Alternative Life History Strategies: A Case Study in a Facultatively Paedomorphic Newt
Preprint (Accepted Version)
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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Tetrapod limbs are serially homologous structures that represent a particularly interesting model for studies on morphological integration, i.e. the tendency of developmental systems to produce correlated variation. In newts, limbs develop at an early larval stage and grow continuously, including after the habitat transition from water to land following metamorphosis. However, aquatic and terrestrial environments impose different constraints and locomotor modes that could affect patterns of morphological integration and evolvability. We hypothesize that this would be the case for alternative heterochronic morphs in newts, i.e. aquatic paedomorphs that keep gills at the adult stage and adult metamorphs that are able to disperse on land. To this end, we analyzed patterns and strengths of correlations between homologous skeletal elements of the fore- and hindlimbs as well as among skeletal elements within limbs in both phenotypes in the alpine newt, Ichthyosaura alpestris. Our results showed that metamorphs and paedomorphs had similar, general patterns of limb integration. Partial correlations between homologous limb elements and within limb elements were higher in paedomorphs when compared to metamorphs. A decrease in partial correlation between homologous limb elements in metamorphs is accompanied with a higher evolvability of the terrestrial morph. All these results indicate that environmental demands shaped the patterns of morphological integration of alpine newt limbs and that the observed diversity in correlation structure could be related to a qualitative difference in the modes of locomotion between the morphs.
Source:Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 2017
- Diversity of the amphibians and reptiles on the Balkan Peninsula: evolutionary and conservation aspects (RS-173043)
- Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique F.R.S.-FNRS. Grant Number: J.0112.16