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Loss of flight in rails (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Julien Gaspar, Gillian C. Gibb & Steve A. Trewick, 2020

Convergent morphological responses to loss of flight in rails (Aves: Rallidae)

Ecology and Evolution / Early View
doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6298

Free pdf:

Abstract: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.6298

The physiological demands of flight exert strong selection pressure on avian morphology and so it is to be expected that the evolutionary loss of flight capacity would involve profound changes in traits. Here, we investigate morphological consequences of flightlessness in a bird family where the condition has evolved repeatedly. The Rallidae include more than 130 recognized species of which over 30 are flightless. Morphological and molecular phylogenetic data were used here to compare species with and without the ability to fly in order to determine major phenotypic effects of the transition from flighted to flightless. We find statistical support for similar morphological response among unrelated flightless lineages, characterized by a shift in energy allocation from the forelimbs to the hindlimbs. Indeed, flightless birds exhibit smaller sterna and wings than flighted taxa in the same family along with wider pelves and more robust femora. Phylogenetic signal tests demonstrate that those differences are independent of phylogeny and instead demonstrate convergent morphological adaptation associated with a walking ecology. We found too that morphological variation was greater among flightless rails than flighted ones, suggesting that relaxation of physiological demands during the transition to flightlessness frees morphological traits to evolve in response to more varied ecological opportunities.



Jim LeNomenclatoriste

Taxonomy and zoological nomenclature
Interesting as usual but Laterallus ruber and levraudi are lacking again. I think we could consider an enlarged Laterallus which absorb Anurolimnas, Coturnicops and allies
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