Journal article

Turtle body size evolution is determined by lineage‐specific specializations rather than global trends


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  • 26.06.2023
Published in:
  • Ecology and Evolution. - Wiley. - 2023, vol. 13, no. 6
English Organisms display a considerable variety of body sizes and shapes, and macroevolutionary investigations help to understand the evolutionary dynamics behind such variations. Turtles (Testudinata) show great body size disparity, especially when their rich fossil record is accounted for. We explored body size evolution in turtles, testing which factors might influence the observed patterns and evaluating the existence of long-term directional trends. We constructed the most comprehensive body size dataset for the group to date, tested for correlation with paleotemperature, estimated ancestral body sizes, and performed macroevolutionary model-fitting analyses. We found no evidence for directional body size evolution, even when using very flexible models, thereby rejecting the occurrence of Cope's rule. We also found no significant effect of paleotemperature on overall through-time body size patterns. In contrast, we found a significant influence of habitat preference on turtle body size. Freshwater turtles display a rather homogeneous body size distribution through time. In contrast, terrestrial and marine turtles show more pronounced variation, with terrestrial forms being restricted to larger body sizes, up to the origin of testudinids in the Cenozoic, and marine turtles undergoing a reduction in body size disparity after the extinctions of many groups in the mid-Cenozoic. Our results, therefore, suggest that long-term, generalized patterns are probably explained by factors specific to certain groups and related at least partly to habitat use.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Département de Biologie
  • English
Open access status
Persistent URL

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