Evolution of vanga pedal morphology and its relation to ecology

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Evolution of vanga pedal morphology and its relation to ecology

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Adaptive radiations are clades that exhibit exceptional diversification in response to ecological opportunity. Studying them is a great way to develop an understanding of the evolution of morphology in response to environmental pressures. In bird adaptive radiations, bills are the most commonly studied anatomical trait. Hindlimbs, like bills, have strong associations with ecological functions, and studying them allows us to capture a different ecomorphological aspect of this adaptive radiation that may not be visible from just studying bills. To do this, we studied the hindlimb morphology of the family Vangidae. We found that bone length varies based on expected patterns of locomotion, with longer tarsometatarsi and shorter halluxes and penultimate phalanges for walking birds, and vice-versa for more arboreal birds. There was more bone length variation within Malagasy vangas than non-Malagasy vangas, supporting how locomotory diversification supported an adaptive radiation that included two extreme taxa. Only one phalanx significantly differed in length based on foraging strategy, showing that hindlimbs capture a different aspect of ecology than bills, where a significant difference has been previously found.



Faculty advisor: Sushma Reddy

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This research was supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

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Lim, Euan; Auerbach, Anya; Reddy, Sushma. (2023). Evolution of vanga pedal morphology and its relation to ecology. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/256456.

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