Boratyński Z, Brito JC, Campos JC, Cunha JL, Granjon L, Mappes T, Ndiaye A, Rzebik-Kowalska B, Serén N



There are two main factors explaining variation among species and the evolution of characters along phylogeny: adaptive change, including phenotypic and genetic responses to selective pressures, and phylogenetic inertia, or the resemblance between species due to shared phylogenetic history. Phenotype-habitat colour match, a classic Darwinian example of the evolution of camouflage (crypsis), offers the opportunity to test the importance of historical versus ecological mechanisms in shaping phenotypes among phylogenetically closely related taxa. To assess it, we investigated fur (phenotypic data) and habitat (remote sensing data) colourations, along with phylogenetic information, in the species-rich Gerbillus genus. Overall, we found a strong phenotype-habitat match, once the phylogenetic signal is taken into account. We found that camouflage has been acquired and lost repeatedly in the course of the evolutionary history of Gerbillus. Our results suggest that fur colouration and its covariation with habitat is a relatively labile character in mammals, potentially responding quickly to selection. Relatively unconstrained and substantial genetic basis, as well as structural and functional independence from other fitness traits of mammalian colouration might be responsible for that observation.



Journal: Scientific Reports

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03444-y