S7-2 Sunday, Jan. 6 08:00 - 08:30 Integrating Traditional and Modern Approaches to Study Morphological Evolution in Bats: Where Is The Point of Diminishing Returns? SANTANA, SE*; ARBOUR, JH; CURTIS, AA; STANCHAK, KE; Univ of Washington; Univ of Washington; Univ of Washington; Univ of Washington email@example.com
The fields of comparative morphology and evolutionary biology have undergone a modern renaissance due to increased accessibility to powerful computational and imaging methods. These have allowed more accurate documentation, measurement and modeling of morphological complexes across an unprecedented spectrum of species, and more rigorous tests of evolutionary hypotheses. Comparative morphologists and biomechanists have particularly benefited from X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) and diffusible iodine-based contrast enhanced CT (diceCT), a suite of imaging techniques that allow the observation and measurement of small and/or otherwise inaccessible anatomical structures, and the creation of highly accurate three-dimensional renditions for biomechanical modeling. But, do the larger datasets generated through these methods always confer greater power to test hypotheses when compared with more traditional methodologies? And, where is the point of diminishing returns when using these tools? Here, we contrast the advantages and difficulties of using data-rich CT methods versus traditional approaches in the study of skull and jaw adductor anatomy, function, and macroevolution in bats. We also show how modern imaging tools can, and sometimes should be, integrated with traditional approaches (e.g., dissections) to quantitatively study muscle function and evolution. By contrasting traditional and modern tools, we illustrate how and when small data may be preferable over big data, and vice versa, and how different methodologies can complement each other in comparative analyses of morphology and function.