Morphological integration and serial homology: A case study of the cranium and anterior vertebrae in salamanders
Article (Accepted Version)
© 2020 Blackwell Verlag GmbH
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Serial homology or the repetition of equivalent developmental units and their derivatives is a phenomenon encountered in a variety of organisms, with the vertebrate axial skeleton as one of the most notable examples. Serially homologous structures can be viewed as an appropriate model system for studying morphological integration and modularity, due to the strong impact of development on their covariation. Here, we explored the pattern of morphological integration of the cranium and the first three serially homologous structures (atlas, first, and second trunk vertebrae) in salamandrid salamanders, using micro‐CT scanning and three‐dimensional geometric morphometrics. We explored the integration between structures at static and evolutionary levels. Effects of allometry on patterns of modularity were also taken into account. At the static level (within species), we analyzed inter‐individual variation in shape to detect functional modules and intra‐individual variation to detect developmental modules. Significant integration (based on inter‐individual variation) among all structures was detected and allometry is shown to be an important integrating factor. The pattern of intra‐individual, asymmetric variation indicates statistically significant developmental integration between the cranium and the atlas and between the first two trunk vertebrae. At the evolutionary level (among species), the cranium, atlas, and trunk vertebrae separate as different modules. Our results show that morphological integration at the evolutionary level coincides with morphological and functional differentiation of the axial skeleton, allowing the more or less independent evolutionary changes of the cranial skeleton and the vertebral column, regardless of the relatively strong integration at the static level. The observed patterns of morphological integration differ across levels, indicating different impacts of developmental and phylogenetic constraints and functional demands.
Source:Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 2020
- Diversity of the amphibians and reptiles on the Balkan Peninsula: evolutionary and conservation aspects (RS-173043)
- Naturalis Temminck Fellowship and grants from SyntheSys (NL‐TAF 3082, 3926)