The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Macroevolutionary comparisons of ecological disparity and craniodental disparity in platyrrhine and strepsirrhine primates


Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University

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Morphological distances are sometimes used in macroevolutionary analyses as a proxy for adaptive variation, but morphological differences between species may not always closely represent ecological or adaptive differences, considered relative to other sources of variation such as phylogenetic history or body size. This investigation compares ecological and morphological distances in 28 species of platyrrhine primates and 23 species of strepsirrhine primates, using field data for diet and activity profile to capture ecological variation and 24 craniodental measurements to capture morphological variation. Analyses were conducted in R, and include direct comparisons of the distance matrices, analyses of the phylogenetic structure of disparity among subclades (disparity through time), and a bootstrap analysis to identify unusually diverse clades at the family level.

Comparisons of the distance matrices using both standard and partial Mantel tests with a phylogenetic distance matrix indicate significant associations between morphological and ecological distance matrices (standard Mantel: platyrrhine p=0.013, strepsirrhine p=0.001). In both clades, high ecological distances were paired with low morphological distances in some instances, but the reverse was found less frequently. When platyrrhines and strepsirrhines were contrasted, analyses of the phylogenetic structure of disparity among subclades were relatively consistent between ecological and morphological datasets. Clades identified as possessing unusually high disparity were not consistent between the two datasets, with high ecological disparity in cheirogaleids, and high morphological disparity in lemurids. These mixed results suggest that the degree to which morphological disparity represents ecological variation may be dependent on the type of macroevolutionary analysis performed.

Travel and equipment funded by American Society of Mammalogists and Geological Society of America research grants; Dental ╬╝CT scanning funded by an Evolving Earth Foundation Grant, NSF DDIG BCS-0622544, and an AAPA Professional Development Grant to Doug M. Boyer.

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