Morphology and Disparity through Time

Abstract

Disparity refers to the extent and statistical structure of the diversity of form among a set of taxa, measured in terms of a morphospace they co‐occupy. Disparity provides an important and distinct perspective on biodiversity, as shown by comparisons between taxonomic and morphological diversity histories of individual clades.

Keywords: biodiversity; phenetics; morphometrics; morphospace; homology

Figure 1.

Concordance and discordance among temporal patterns in taxonomic diversity and morphological disparity. The occupation of a bivariate morphospace is shown for all taxa of a given clade in consecutive time slices (a), (b), and (c) and also shown schematically in (d). Each dot represents one species; survivors into the next time slice are shown as large dots. (a,b) Taxonomically intense, morphologically nonselective extinction from time a to time b produces an increase in variance‐based disparity metrics but has little effect on range‐based disparity metrics. (b,c) Morphologically selective extinction from time b to time c produces massive reductions in variance‐based and range‐based disparity metrics.

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Further Reading

Foote M (1997) The evolution of morphological disparity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 28: 129–152.

Foote M, Gould SJ, Lee MSY et al. (1992) Cambrian and Recent morphological disparity. Science 258: 1816–1818.

Gould SJ (1989) Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. London: Hutchinson.

Wills MA (2001) Morphological disparity: A primer. In: Adrain JM, Edgecombe GD and Lieberman BS (eds.) Fossils, Phylogeny, and Form (Topics in Geobiology, vol. 19). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum.

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How to Cite close
Kaplan, Peter(Mar 2004) Morphology and Disparity through Time. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001637]