Background Over the past 40 million years water temperatures have dramatically dropped in the Southern Ocean, which has led to the local extinction of most nearshore fish lineages. The evolution of antifreeze glycoproteins in notothenioids, however, enabled these ancestrally benthic fishes to survive and adapt as temperatures reached the freezing point of seawater (−1.86 °C). Antarctic notothenioids now represent the primary teleost lineage in the Southern Ocean and are of fundamental importance to the local ecosystem. The radiation of notothenioids has been fostered by the evolution of “secondary pelagicism”, the invasion of pelagic habitats, as the group diversified to fill newly available foraging niches in the water column. While elaborate craniofacial modifications have accompanied this adaptive radiation, little is known about how these morphological changes have contributed to the evolutionary success of notothenioids. Results We used a 3D-morphometrics approach to investigate patterns of morphological variation in the craniofacial skeleton among notothenioids, and show that variation in head shape is best explained by divergent selection with respect to foraging niche. We document further an accelerated rate of morphological evolution in the icefish family Channichthyidae, and show that their rapid diversification was accompanied by the evolution of relatively high levels of morphological integration. Whereas most studies suggest that extensive integration should constrain phenotypic evolution, icefish stand out as a rare example of increased integration possibly facilitating evolutionary potential. Finally, we show that the unique feeding apparatus in notothenioids in general, and icefish in particular, can be traced to shifts in early developmental patterning mechanisms and ongoing growth of the pharyngeal skeleton. Conclusion Our work suggests that ecological opportunity is a major factor driving craniofacial variation in this group. Further, the observation that closely related lineages can differ dramatically in integration suggests that this trait can evolve quickly. We propose that the evolution of high levels of phenotypic integration in icefishes may be considered a key innovation that facilitated their morphological evolution and subsequent ecological expansion.

Evolution in an extreme environment: developmental biases and phenotypic integration in the adaptive radiation of antarctic notothenioids

GHIGLIOTTI, LAURA;VACCHI, MARINO;PISANO, EVA;
2016-01-01

Abstract

Background Over the past 40 million years water temperatures have dramatically dropped in the Southern Ocean, which has led to the local extinction of most nearshore fish lineages. The evolution of antifreeze glycoproteins in notothenioids, however, enabled these ancestrally benthic fishes to survive and adapt as temperatures reached the freezing point of seawater (−1.86 °C). Antarctic notothenioids now represent the primary teleost lineage in the Southern Ocean and are of fundamental importance to the local ecosystem. The radiation of notothenioids has been fostered by the evolution of “secondary pelagicism”, the invasion of pelagic habitats, as the group diversified to fill newly available foraging niches in the water column. While elaborate craniofacial modifications have accompanied this adaptive radiation, little is known about how these morphological changes have contributed to the evolutionary success of notothenioids. Results We used a 3D-morphometrics approach to investigate patterns of morphological variation in the craniofacial skeleton among notothenioids, and show that variation in head shape is best explained by divergent selection with respect to foraging niche. We document further an accelerated rate of morphological evolution in the icefish family Channichthyidae, and show that their rapid diversification was accompanied by the evolution of relatively high levels of morphological integration. Whereas most studies suggest that extensive integration should constrain phenotypic evolution, icefish stand out as a rare example of increased integration possibly facilitating evolutionary potential. Finally, we show that the unique feeding apparatus in notothenioids in general, and icefish in particular, can be traced to shifts in early developmental patterning mechanisms and ongoing growth of the pharyngeal skeleton. Conclusion Our work suggests that ecological opportunity is a major factor driving craniofacial variation in this group. Further, the observation that closely related lineages can differ dramatically in integration suggests that this trait can evolve quickly. We propose that the evolution of high levels of phenotypic integration in icefishes may be considered a key innovation that facilitated their morphological evolution and subsequent ecological expansion.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/843921
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