Ecomorphological divergence and habitat lability in the context of robust patterns of modularity in the cichlid feeding apparatus
Conith, Andrew J.
Kidd, Michael R.
Kocher, Thomas D.
Albertson, R. Craig
Conith, A.J., Kidd, M.R., Kocher, T.D. et al. Ecomorphological divergence and habitat lability in the context of robust patterns of modularity in the cichlid feeding apparatus. BMC Evol Biol 20, 95 (2020).
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Adaptive radiations are characterized by extreme and/or iterative phenotypic divergence; however, such variation does not accumulate evenly across an organism. Instead, it is often partitioned into sub-units, or modules, which can differentially respond to selection. While it is recognized that changing the pattern of modularity or the strength of covariation (integration) can influence the range or rate of morphological evolution, the relationship between shape variation and covariation remains unclear. For example, it is possible that rapid phenotypic change requires concomitant changes to the underlying covariance structure. Alternatively, repeated shifts between phenotypic states may be facilitated by a conserved covariance structure. Distinguishing between these scenarios will contribute to a better understanding of the factors that shape biodiversity. Here, we explore these questions using a diverse Lake Malawi cichlid species complex, Tropheops, that appears to partition habitat by depth.