Just out | Accelerated body size evolution during cold climatic periods in the Cenozoic @ PNAS

Just out @ PNAS

Accelerated body size evolution during cold climatic periods in the Cenozoic


Julien Clavel and Hélène Morlon


How ecological and morphological diversity accumulates over geological time is much debated. Adaptive radiation theory has been successful in testing the effects of biotic interactions on the rapid divergence of phenotypes within a clade, but this theory ignores abiotic effects. The role of abiotic drivers on the tempo of phenotypic evolution has been tested only in a few lineages or small clades from the fossil record. Here, we develop a phylogenetic comparative framework for testing if and how clade-wide rates of phenotypic evolution vary with abiotic drivers. We apply this approach to comprehensive bird and mammal phylogenies, body size data for 9,465 extant species, and global average temperature trends over the Cenozoic. Across birds and mammals, we find that the rate of body size evolution is primarily driven by past climate. Unexpectedly, evolutionary rates are inferred to be higher during periods of cold rather than warm climates in most groups, suggesting that temperature influences evolutionary rates by modifying selective pressures rather than through its effect on energy availability and metabolism. The effect of climate on the rate of body size evolution seems to be a general feature of endotherm evolution, regardless of wide differences in species’ ecology and evolutionary history. These results suggest that climatic changes played a major role in shaping species’ evolution in the past and could also play a major role in shaping their evolution in the future.

Keywords: evolutionary rates, macroevolution, climate, endotherms, phylogenetics

READ IT HERE: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/16/4183.short

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)