Published April 2, 2024 | Version v1
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Data from: Historical field records reveal habitat as an ecological correlate of locomotor phenotypic diversity in the radiation of Neotropical Geophagini fishes

  • 1. University of Michigan–Flint


Phenotypic macroevolutionary studies provide insight into how ecological processes shape biodiversity. However, the complexity of phenotype-ecology relationships underscores the importance of also validating phenotype-based ecological inference with direct evidence of resource use. Unfortunately, macroevolutionary scale ecological studies are often hindered by the challenges of acquiring taxonomically and spatially representative ecological data for large and widely distributed clades. The South American cichlid fish tribe Geophagini represents a continentally distributed radiation whose early locomotor morphological divergence suggests habitat as one ecological correlate of diversification, but an association between locomotor traits and habitat preference has not been corroborated. Field notes accumulated over decades of collecting across South America provide first-hand environmental records that can be mined for habitat data in support of macroevolutionary ecological research. In this study, we applied a newly developed method to transform descriptive field note information into quantitative habitat data, and used it to assess habitat preference and its relationship to locomotor morphology in Geophagini. Field note-derived data shed light on geophagine habitat use patterns and reinforced habitat as an ecological correlate of locomotor morphological diversity. Our work emphasizes the rich data potential of museum collections, including often overlooked material such as field notes, for evolutionary and ecological research.



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Funding provided by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
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Funding provided by: American Cichlid Association*
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Funding provided by: Royal Ontario Museum
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Funding provided by: University of Toronto
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Funding provided by: University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
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Previously published Maximum Clade Credibility (MCC) and sample of 1000 Bayesian posterior distirbution phylogenies (from López-Fernández et al. 2013). The associated code prunes these phylgenies to include only focal taxa for this study.

Locomotor morphological data was collected from preserved specimens, using digital calipers for linear measurements and on photos for area and moment arms. The associated code log-transforms, corrects for body size, and reduces the dataset by removing traits with Variance Inflation Factors (VIF) > 10.

Habitat data was collected from field notes, in the form of a presence matrix. The associated code applies our transformed to convert the presence matrix into a quantiative compositional dataset. 



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