Evol Ecol Res 18: 253-269 (2017) Full PDF if your library subscribes.
Bovid locomotor functional trait distributions
reflect land cover and annual precipitation in sub-Saharan Africa
W. Andrew Barr
Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
Correspondence: W.A. Barr, Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: Previous studies demonstrate that community-average mammalian hypsodonty is highly correlated with annual precipitation across geographic space and through evolutionary time. This approach of using community-level morphological traits to infer environmental parameters has been termed the ‘ecometric’ approach. The utility of this approach on narrower spatial and taxonomic scales is not well understood.
Questions: Do bovid (antelope) locomotor traits work well as ecometric traits? Do assemblage-average values of bovid locomotor traits reflect annual precipitation and vegetation cover within sub-Saharan Africa?
Data studied: I compiled five quantitative locomotor traits of the astragalus and five traits of the metatarsal for bovid species occurring across sub-Saharan Africa. I obtained estimates of annual precipitation and land cover for the corresponding locations.
Methods: General linear modelling to quantify the relationship of assemblage-average trait values to annual precipitation and land cover.
Conclusion: Astragalus and metatarsal traits explain major proportions of variation in annual precipitation and land cover (R 2 > 0.6). Because locomotor ecometric traits track vegetation cover and annual precipitation in modern assemblages, these traits may be useful for reconstructing environmental variables over evolutionary time based on the abundant bovid postcranial fossil record.
Keywords: Bovidae, ecometrics, ecomorphology, functional traits.
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