Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Lineage diversity and size disparity in Musteloidea: testing patterns of adaptive radiation using molecular and fossil-based methods (#408)

Chris J Law 1 , Graham J Slater 2 , Rita S Mehta 1
  1. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America
  2. Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States

Tests for adaptive radiation in extant taxa are traditionally estimated from calibrated molecular phylogenies with little input from extinct taxa. With 85 species in 33 genera and over 400 extinct species, Musteloidea is a prime candidate to investigate patterns of adaptive radiation using both extant- and fossil-based macroevolutionary methods. The species diversity and equally impressive phenotypic diversity found across Musteloidea is often attributed to 2 adaptive radiations coinciding with the Eocene-Oligocene transition and the Mid-Miocene Climate Transition. Here, we compiled a dated phylogeny for 88% of extant musteloids to test the predictions of adaptive radiation hypotheses with respect to rates of lineage diversification and phenotypic evolution. Contrary to expectations, we found no evidence for rapid bursts of lineage diversification at the origin of Musteloidea, and further analyses of lineage diversification rates using molecular and fossil-based methods did not find associations between rates of lineage diversification and climate transitions as previously hypothesised. Rather, we found strong support for decoupled diversification dynamics driven by increased clade carrying capacity in the branches leading to a subclade of elongate mustelids. Supporting decoupled diversification dynamics between the subclade of elongate mustelids and the ancestral musteloid regime is our finding of increased rates of body length evolution, but not body mass evolution, within the decoupled mustelid subclade. The discordance in evolutionary rates between body length and body mass along with evidence of decoupled diversification dynamics suggests that body elongation might be an innovation for the exploitation of Mid-Miocene resources, resulting in the radiation of some musteloids.