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Palm fruit colours are linked with the broad-scale distribution and diversification of primate colour vision systems

Onstein, R, Vink, D, Veen, J, Barratt, C, Flantua, S, Wich, SA and Kissling, D (2020) Palm fruit colours are linked with the broad-scale distribution and diversification of primate colour vision systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287 (1921). ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

A long-standing hypothesis in ecology and evolution is that trichromatic colour vision (the ability to distinguish red from green) in frugivorous primates has evolved as an adaptation to detect conspicuous (reddish) fruits. This could provide a competitive advantage over dichromatic frugivores which cannot distinguish reddish colours from a background of green foliage. Using an unprecedented global data set, we test this hypothesis by combining colour vision, distribution and phylogenetic data for >400 primate species with fruit colour data for >1700 palm species, i.e. keystone fruit resources for tropical frugivores. Structural equation models reveal that species richness of trichromatic primates increases with the proportion of palm species that have conspicuous fruits, especially in subtropical African forests. In contrast, species richness of trichromats in Asia and the Americas is not positively associated with conspicuous palm fruit colours. Macroevolutionary analyses further indicate rapid and synchronous radiations of trichromats and conspicuous palms on the African mainland starting 10 million years ago. These results suggest that the distribution and diversification of African trichromatic primates is strongly linked to the relative availability of conspicuous (vs. cryptic) palm fruits, and that interactions between primates and palms are impacted by the co- evolutionary dynamics of primate colour vision systems and palm fruit colours.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 06 Biological Sciences, 11 Medical and Health Sciences, 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: The Royal Society
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2020 13:00
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2020 11:30
DOI or Identification number: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2731
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12175

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