Meeting Abstract

S7-3  Sunday, Jan. 6 08:30 - 09:00  Do coral reefs act as a crucible for morphological innovation? A critical reappraisal of the effect of coral reef habitats on the evolution of morphological diversity in wrasses in the era of big data. EVANS, KM*; WILLIAMS, K; WESTNEAT, M; University of Minnesota; University of Minnesota; University of Chicago

Coral reefs are complex marine habitats that have been hypothesized to facilitate functional specialization and increased rates of functional and morphological evolution. Wrasses (Labridae: Percomorpha) in particular, have diversified extensively in these coral reef environments and have evolved adaptations to further exploit reef-specific resources. Prior studies have found that reef-dwelling wrasses exhibit higher rates of functional evolution and higher functional disparity that non-reef dwelling wrasses. Here we re-examine this hypothesis across 180 species using high-resolution morphological data in the form of micro-CT scans and use three-dimensional geometric morphometrics to quantify shape differences in the skull and jaws across reef and non-reef dwelling wrasses. We find that reef-dwelling wrasses are both more morphologically disparate and exhibit higher rates of morphological evolution than their non-reef dwelling counterparts. Our results corroborate with previous studies and suggest that coral reef habitats act as crucibles for morphological innovation and diversification.