The modular organization of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) body during ontogeny: the effects of sex and habitat.
Tomašević Kolarov, Nataša
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Background As a small artiodactyl, the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.) is characterized by biological plasticity and great adaptability demonstrated by their survival under a wide variety of environmental conditions. In order to depict patterns of phenotypic variation of roe deer body this study aims to quantify variation during ontogenetic development and determine how sex-specific reproductive investment and non-uniform habitat differences relate to phenotypic variation and do these differential investments mold the patterns of phenotypic variation through modular organisation. Results Patterns of phenotypic correlation among body traits change during the ontogeny of roe deer, with differential influence of sex and habitat type. Modularity was found to be a feature of closed habitats with trunk+forelimbs+hindlimbs as the best supported integration/modularity hypothesis for both sexes. The indices of integration and evolvability vary with habitat type, age and sex where increased integration is followed by decreased evolvability. Conclusion This is the first study that quantifies patterns of correlation in the roe deer body and finds pronounced changes in correlation structure during ontogeny affected by sex and habitat type. The correlation structure of the roe deer body is developmentally written over the course of ontogeny but we do not exclude the influence of function on ontogenetic changes. Modularity arises with the onset of reproduction (subadults not being modular) and is differentially expressed in males and females from different habitats. Both adult males and females show modularity in primordial, closed habitats. Overall, all these findings are important as they provide support to the idea that modularity can evolve at the population level and change fast within a species.
Keywords:Evolvability; Modularity; Morphological covariation; Morphological integration
Source:Frontiers in Zoology, 2018, 15, 1, 37-
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