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Ecogeographical Variation in Skull Shape of South-American Canids: Abiotic or Biotic Processes?

Bubadue, J and Caceres, N and Carvalho, R and Meloro, C (2015) Ecogeographical Variation in Skull Shape of South-American Canids: Abiotic or Biotic Processes? Evolutionary Biology. pp. 1-15. ISSN 1934-2845

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Abstract

Species morphological changes can be mutually influenced by environmental or biotic factors, such as competition. South American canids represent a quite recent radiation of taxa that evolved forms very disparate in phenotype, ecology and behaviour. Today, in the central part of South America there is one dominant large species (the maned wolf, Chrysocyon brachyurus) that directly influence sympatric smaller taxa via interspecific killing. Further south, three species of similar sized foxes (Lycalopex spp.) share the same habitats. Such unique combination of taxa and geographic distribution makes South American dogs an ideal group to test for the simultaneous impact of climate and competition on phenotypic variation. Using geometric morphometrics, we quantified skull size and shape of 431 specimens belonging to the eight extant South American canid species: Atelocynus microtis, Cerdocyon thous, Ch. brachyurus, Lycalopex culpaeus, L. griseus, L. gymnocercus, L. vetulus and Speothos venaticus. South American canids are significantly different in both skull size and shape. The hypercarnivorous bush dog is mostly distinct in shape from all the other taxa while a degree of overlap in shape—but not size—occurs between species of the genus Lycalopex. Both climate and competition impacts interspecific morphological variation. We identified climatic adaptations as the main driving force of diversification for the South American canids. Competition has a lower degree of impact on their skull morphology although it might have played a role in the past, when canid community was richer in morphotypes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is also available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11692-015-9362-3
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0603 Evolutionary Biology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences and Psychology
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2016 15:19
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2016 10:12
DOI or Identification number: 10.1007/s11692-015-9362-3
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2846

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