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Testing the cranial evolutionary allometric ‘rule’ in Galliformes

Linde‐Medina, M.
Journal of evolutionary biology 2016 v.29 no.9 pp. 1873-1878
Galliformes, allometry, beak, birds, body weight, face, mammals, phylogeny, regression analysis, skull
Recent comparative studies have indicated the existence of a common cranial evolutionary allometric (CREA) pattern in mammals and birds, in which smaller species have relatively smaller faces and bigger braincases than larger species. In these studies, cranial allometry was tested using a multivariate regression between shape (described using landmarks coordinates) and size (i.e. centroid size), after accounting for phylogenetic relatedness. Alternatively, cranial allometry can be determined by comparing the sizes of two anatomical parts using a bivariate regression analysis. In this analysis, a slope higher or lower than one indicates the existence of positive or negative allometry, respectively. Thus, in those species that support the CREA ‘rule’, positive allometry is expected for the association between face size and braincase size, which would indicate that larger species have disproportionally larger faces. In this study, I applied these two approaches to explore cranial allometry in 83 Galliformes (Aves, Galloanserae), ranging in mean body weight from 30 g to 2.5 kg. The multivariate regression between shape and centroid size revealed the existence of a significant allometric pattern resembling CREA, whereas the second analysis revealed a negative allometry for beak size and braincase size (i.e. contrary to the CREA ‘rule’, larger galliform species have disproportionally shorter beaks than smaller galliform species). This study suggests that the presence of CREA may be overestimated when using cranium size as the standard measurement.