© 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Convergent evolution is widely viewed as strong evidence for the influence of natural selection on the origin of phenotypic design. However, the emerging evo-devo synthesis has highlighted other processes that may bias and direct phenotypic evolution in the presence of environmental and genetic variation. Developmental biases on the production of phenotypic variation may channel the evolution of convergent forms by limiting the range of phenotypes produced during ontogeny. Here, we study the evolution and convergence of brachycephalic and dolichocephalic skull shapes among 133 species of Neotropical electric fishes (Gymnotiformes: Teleostei) and identify potential developmental biases on phenotypic evolution. We plot the ontogenetic trajectories of neurocranial phenotypes in 17 species and document developmental modularity between the face and braincase regions of the skull. We recover a significant relationship between developmental covariation and relative skull length and a significant relationship between developmental covariation and ontogenetic disparity. We demonstrate that modularity and integration bias the production of phenotypes along the brachycephalic and dolichocephalic skull axis and contribute to multiple, independent evolutionary transformations to highly brachycephalic and dolichocephalic skull morphologies.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Ecology and Evolution
Evans, K., Waltz, B., Tagliacollo, V., Chakrabarty, P., & Albert, J. (2017). Why the short face? Developmental disintegration of the neurocranium drives convergent evolution in neotropical electric fishes. Ecology and Evolution, 7 (6), 1783-1801. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2704