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Strong biomechanical relationships bias the tempo and mode of morphological evolution

  1. Martha M Muñoz  Is a corresponding author
  2. Yinan Hu
  3. Philip SL Anderson
  4. S N Patek  Is a corresponding author
  1. Virginia Tech, United States
  2. University of Rhode Island, United States
  3. University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, United States
  4. Duke University, United States
Research Article
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Cite as: eLife 2018;7:e37621 doi: 10.7554/eLife.37621

Abstract

The influence of biomechanics on the tempo and mode of morphological evolution is unresolved, yet is fundamental to organismal diversification. Across multiple four-bar linkage systems in animals, we discovered that rapid morphological evolution (tempo) is associated with mechanical sensitivity (strong correlation between a mechanical system's output and one or more of its components). Mechanical sensitivity is explained by size: the smallest link(s) are disproportionately affected by length changes and most strongly influence mechanical output. Rate of evolutionary change (tempo) is greatest in the smallest links and trait shifts across phylogeny (mode) occur exclusively via the influential, small links. Our findings illuminate the paradigms of many-to-one mapping, mechanical sensitivity, and constraints: tempo and mode are dominated by strong correlations that exemplify mechanical sensitivity, even in linkage systems known for exhibiting many-to-one mapping. Amidst myriad influences, mechanical sensitivity imparts distinct, predictable footprints on morphological diversity.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Martha M Muñoz

    Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, United States
    For correspondence
    mmunoz5@vt.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Yinan Hu

    Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0002-9304-519X
  3. Philip SL Anderson

    Department of Animal Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, Urbana, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. S N Patek

    Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, United States
    For correspondence
    snp2@duke.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon 0000-0001-9738-882X

Funding

National Science Foundation (1439850)

  • S N Patek

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. David Lentink, Reviewing Editor, Stanford University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: April 16, 2018
  2. Accepted: August 8, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 9, 2018 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2018, Muñoz et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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