Evol Ecol Res 18: 253-269 (2017)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Bovid locomotor functional trait distributions
reflect land cover and annual precipitation in sub-Saharan Africa

W. Andrew Barr

Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Correspondence: W.A. Barr, Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA. email: wabarr@gmail.com


Background: Previous studies demonstrate that community-average mammalian hypsodonty is highly correlated with annual precipitation across geographic space and through evolutionary time. This approach of using community-level morphological traits to infer environmental parameters has been termed the ‘ecometric’ approach. The utility of this approach on narrower spatial and taxonomic scales is not well understood.

Questions: Do bovid (antelope) locomotor traits work well as ecometric traits? Do assemblage-average values of bovid locomotor traits reflect annual precipitation and vegetation cover within sub-Saharan Africa?

Data studied: I compiled five quantitative locomotor traits of the astragalus and five traits of the metatarsal for bovid species occurring across sub-Saharan Africa. I obtained estimates of annual precipitation and land cover for the corresponding locations.

Methods: General linear modelling to quantify the relationship of assemblage-average trait values to annual precipitation and land cover.

Conclusion: Astragalus and metatarsal traits explain major proportions of variation in annual precipitation and land cover (R2 > 0.6). Because locomotor ecometric traits track vegetation cover and annual precipitation in modern assemblages, these traits may be useful for reconstructing environmental variables over evolutionary time based on the abundant bovid postcranial fossil record.

Keywords: Bovidae, ecometrics, ecomorphology, functional traits.

IF you are connected using the IP of a subscribing institution (library, laboratory, etc.)
or through its VPN.


        © 2017 W. Andrew Barr. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

       Subscribing institutions/libraries may grant individuals the privilege of making a single copy of an EER article for non-commercial educational or non-commercial research purposes. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also use articles for non-commercial educational purposes by making any number of copies for course packs or course reserve collections. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also loan single copies of articles to non-commercial libraries for educational purposes.

       All copies of abstracts and articles must preserve their copyright notice without modification.