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Do Developmental Constraints and High Integration Limit the Evolution of the Marsupial Oral Apparatus?

Goswami, A; Randau, M; Polly, PD; Weisbecker, V; Bennett, CV; Hautier, L; Sánchez-Villagra, MR; (2016) Do Developmental Constraints and High Integration Limit the Evolution of the Marsupial Oral Apparatus? Integrative and Comparative Biology , 56 (3) pp. 404-415. 10.1093/icb/icw039. Green open access

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Abstract

Developmental constraints can have significant influence on the magnitude and direction of evolutionary change, and many studies have demonstrated that these effects are manifested on macroevolutionary scales. Phenotypic integration, or the strong interactions among traits, has been similarly invoked as a major influence on morphological variation, and many studies have demonstrated that trait integration changes through ontogeny, in many cases decreasing with age. Here, we unify these perspectives in a case study of the ontogeny of the mammalian cranium, focusing on a comparison between marsupials and placentals. Marsupials are born at an extremely altricial state, requiring, in most cases, the use of the forelimbs to climb to the pouch, and, in all cases, an extended period of continuous suckling, during which most of their development occurs. Previous work has shown that marsupials are less disparate in adult cranial form than are placentals, particularly in the oral apparatus, and in forelimb ontogeny and adult morphology, presumably due to functional selection pressures on these two systems during early postnatal development. Using phenotypic trajectory analysis to quantify prenatal and early postnatal cranial ontogeny in 10 species of therian mammals, we demonstrate that this pattern of limited variation is also apparent in the development of the oral apparatus of marsupials, relative to placentals, but not in the skull more generally. Combined with the observation that marsupials show extremely high integration of the oral apparatus in early postnatal ontogeny, while other cranial regions show similar levels of integration to that observed in placentals, we suggest that high integration may compound the effects of the functional constraints for continuous suckling to ultimately limit the ontogenetic and adult disparity of the marsupial oral apparatus throughout their evolutionary history.

Type: Article
Title: Do Developmental Constraints and High Integration Limit the Evolution of the Marsupial Oral Apparatus?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/icb/icw039
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icb/icw039
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1499914
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