2019-09-09Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21198
Weighing homoplasy against alternative scenarios with the help of macroevolutionary modeling: A case study on limb bones of fossorial sciuromorph rodents
Homoplasy is a strong indicator of a phenotypic trait's adaptive significance when it can be linked to a similar function. We assessed homoplasy in functionally relevant scapular and femoral traits of Marmotini and Xerini, two sciuromorph rodent clades that independently acquired a fossorial lifestyle from an arboreal ancestor. We studied 125 species in the scapular dataset and 123 species in the femoral dataset. Pairwise evolutionary model comparison was used to evaluate whether homoplasy of trait optima is more likely than other plausible scenarios. The most likely trend of trait evolution among all traits was assessed via likelihood scoring of all considered models. The homoplasy hypothesis could never be confirmed as the single most likely model. Regarding likelihood scoring, scapular traits most frequently did not differ among Marmotini, Xerini, and arboreal species. For the majority of femoral traits, results indicate that Marmotini, but not Xerini, evolved away from the ancestral arboreal condition. We conclude on the basis of the scapular results that the forelimbs of fossorial and arboreal sciuromorphs share mostly similar functional demands, whereas the results on the femur indicate that the hind limb morphology is less constrained, perhaps depending on the specific fossorial habitat.
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This article was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.