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Shape Covariation (or the Lack Thereof) Between Vertebrae and Other Skeletal Traits in Felids: The Whole is Not Always Greater than the Sum of Parts

Randau, M; Goswami, A; (2018) Shape Covariation (or the Lack Thereof) Between Vertebrae and Other Skeletal Traits in Felids: The Whole is Not Always Greater than the Sum of Parts. Evolutionary Biology , 45 (2) pp. 196-210. 10.1007/s11692-017-9443-6. Green open access

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Abstract

Within carnivorans, cats show comparatively little disparity in overall morphology, with species differing mainly in body size. However, detailed shape analyses of individual osteological structures, such as limbs or skulls, have shown that felids display significant morphological differences that correlate with their observed ecological and behavioural ranges. Recently, these shape analyses have been extended to the felid axial skeleton. Results demonstrate a functionally-partitioned vertebral column, with regions varying greatly in level of correlation between shape and ecology. Moreover, a clear distinction is evident between a phylogenetically-constrained neck region and a selection-responsive posterior spine. Here, we test whether this regionalisation of function reflected in vertebral column shape is also translated into varying levels of phenotypic integration between this structure and most other skeletal elements. We accomplish this comparison by performing pairwise tests of integration between vertebral and other osteological units, quantified with 3D geometric morphometric data and analysed both with and without phylogenetic correction. To our knowledge, this is the first study to test for integration across a comprehensive sample of whole-skeleton elements. Our results show that, prior to corrections, strong covariation is present between vertebrae across the vertebral column and all other elements, with the exception of the femur. However, most of these significant correlations disappear after correcting for phylogeny, which is a significant influence on cranial and limb morphology of felids and other carnivorans. Our results thus suggest that the vertebral column of cats displays relative independence from other skeletal elements and may represent several distinct evolutionary morphological modules.

Type: Article
Title: Shape Covariation (or the Lack Thereof) Between Vertebrae and Other Skeletal Traits in Felids: The Whole is Not Always Greater than the Sum of Parts
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s11692-017-9443-6
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-017-9443-6
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Modularity; Integration; Morphological evolution; Vertebral column; Felidae Morphology
UCL classification: UCL
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: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045688
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