Influence of Cladogenesis on Feeding Structures in Drums (Teleostei: Sciaenidae)

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Drums (family Sciaenidae) are common in tropical to temperate coastal and estuarine habitats worldwide and present a broad spectrum of morphological diversity. The anatomical variation in this family is particularly evident in their feeding apparatus, which may reflect the partitioning of adult foraging habitats. Adult and early life history stage sciaenids may display ecomorphological patterns in oral and pharyngeal jaw elements but because sciaenids are hierarchically related, the morphological variation of the feeding apparatus cannot be analyzed as independent data. Morphological patterns have been identified in three sciaenid genera from the Chesapeake Bay but it is not known if these patterns are present in other genera of the family and if such patterns are constrained by phylogenetic history. In this study, phylogenetic comparative methods were applied to two sets of oral jaw data obtained from growth series of 11 species of cleared and double-stained Chesapeake Bay sciaenids and alcohol-preserved museum specimens representing 65 of the 66 recognized genera to determine the magnitude of phylogenetic dependence present in the structure of the oral jaws using a recent molecular phylogeny of the family. Pagel’s lambda, a measure of phylogenetic signal, was low for pelagic sciaenids in premaxilla, lower jaw, and ascending process lengths, indicating influence of selective forces on the condition of these traits. Conversely, for benthic sciaenids, phylogenetic signal was high for lower jaw and ascending process lengths, indicating significant phylogenetic constraint for their condition in these taxa. Pagel’s lambda was intermediate for premaxilla length in benthic sciaenids, suggesting that the length of the premaxilla is influenced by a mix of selective forces and phylogenetic constraint. Although the ecomorphological patterns identified in the oral jaws of scaienids are not entirely free of phylogenetic dependence, selective forces related to foraging are likely driving the evolution of these structures.

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