Functional Morphology and Physiology: Comparative Methods

Abstract

A central goal of biology is to compare organismal structure, function and physiology among a diversity of life forms spanning major evolutionary changes. Special methods now allow the integration of physiology, functional morphology and other traits with evolutionary information to reveal physiological evolution.

Keywords: phylogeny; evolution; character change; adaptation; convergence; homoplasy

Figure 1.

Phylogeny of the Vertebrata, showing evolutionary relationships of major vertebrate animal groups.

Figure 2.

Labrid fishes of Pacific coral reefs that show correlated character evolution in the biomechanics of the jaws and the habit of feeding on hard‐shelled or evasive prey. (a) Cheilinus chlorourus, a molluscivore with forceful jaws. (b) Oxycheilinus arenatus, a piscivore with jaws specialized for rapid motion.

Figure 3.

Phylogenetic mapping of the dietary habits and biomechanical characters, using gap‐coded characters. (a) Dietary habits, with red branches for species that feed on evasive prey such as other fishes. (b) Displacement advantage of jaw opening and closing levers, with red branches for species that are specialized for rapid motion of the jaws.

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Further Reading

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Walton BM (1993) Physiology and phylogeny: the evolution of locomotor energetics in hylid frogs. American Naturalist 141: 26–50.

Westneat MW (1995) Feeding, function, and phylogeny: analysis of historical biomechanics and ecology in labrid fishes using comparative methods. Systematic Biology 44: 361–383.

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How to Cite close
Westneat, Mark W(Apr 2001) Functional Morphology and Physiology: Comparative Methods. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001817]