Multilevel assessment of the Lacertid lizard cranial modularity
© 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH
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Different factors and processes that produce phenotypic variation at the individual, population, or interspecific level can influence or alter the covariance structure among morphological traits. Therefore, studies of the patterns of integration and modularity at multiple levels—static, ontogenetic, and evolutionary, can provide invaluable data on underlying factors and processes that structured morphological variation, directed, or constrained evolutionary changes. Our dataset, consisting of cranium shape data for 14 lizard species from the family Lacertidae, with substantial samples of hatchlings and adults along with their inferred evolutionary relationships, enabled us to assess modularity and morphological integration at all three levels. Five, not mutually exclusive modularity hypotheses of lizard cranium, were tested, and the effects of allometry on intensity and the pattern of integration and modularity were estimated. We used geometric morphometrics to extract symmetric and asymmetric, as well as allometric and nonallometric, components of shape variation. At the static level, firm confirmation of cranial modularity was found for hypotheses which separate anterior and posterior functional compartments of the skull. At the ontogenetic level, two alternative hypotheses (the “anteroposterior” and “neurodermatocranial” hypotheses) of ventral cranial modularity were confirmed. At the evolutionary level, the “neurodermatocranial” hypothesis was confirmed for the ventral cranium, which is in accordance with the pattern observed at the ontogenetic level. The observed pattern of static modularity could be driven by functional demands and can be regarded as adaptive. Ontogenetic modularity and evolutionary modularity show the same developmental origin, indicating conservatism of modularity patterns driven by developmental constraints.
Keywords:Evolution; Lacertidae; Modularity; Morphological integration; Ontogeny; Skull
Source:Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 2019, 57, 1, 145-158
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