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Patterns of coevolution in carnivores and ungulates during Cenozoic

Serio, C (2023) Patterns of coevolution in carnivores and ungulates during Cenozoic. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Biotic factors such as species interaction, competition, and predation, as well as abiotic factors such as geological, climatic, and ocean current changes, are among the primary drivers of evolution. Both predator-prey interactions and habitat changes have been proposed to have an impact on the evolution and morphological diversification of the limb bones in Carnivora, Artiodactyla, and Perissodactyla.
In this thesis, I then revised the relationships between zeugopodium and stylopodium morphometry with the main proxies of locomotor performance: maximum running speed and daily movement distances. I found brachial and crural indices were significantly related to maximum running speed and model accuracy improved when accounting for species trophic levels. This provided support for the use of functional ratios in the study of coordinated evolutionary patterns between predators and prey.
The functional ratios were then combined to assess morphological disparity through time in a sample of living and fossil mammals. The greatest diversification events were found to be associated with the main climatic shift that occurred during the Cenozoic. A most accurate investigation revealed that Carnivora and Artiodactyla increased in morphological diversity during the coolest Cenozoic events (Eocene-Oligocene transition and the Miocene), which were also characterised by low primary productivity.
Ultimately, I presented a geometric morphometric assessment of the humerus ecomorphology in a combined sample of Carnivora and ungulates. Humerus shape were found to be a good paleovegetation predictor. Both clades evolved common humerus morphologies in response to the same vegetation type.
Although no direct evidence of co-evolution could be identified in large mammalian clades, this thesis demonstrated that a complex interplay occurs between variation in the postcranial skeleton and ecological adaptations. Restricting focus on highly interacting species belonging to the same functional guild might be a way forward to better understanding coordinated patterns in phenotypic evolution.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Carnivora; Ungulata; long bones; Maximum Running Speed; Daily Movemement Distance; Morphological Disparity; ecomorphology; discriminant analysis
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2023 16:26
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2023 16:26
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00021769
Supervisors: Meloro, C, Brown, R and Clauss, M
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/21769
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