Rates of ecomorphological trait evolution in passerine birds are independent of clade age

While the links between species richness and diversification rates with clade age have been studied extensively, very few studies have investigated the relationship between the rates of trait evolution and clade age. It is therefore not well understood whether the rate of morphological trait evolution within a clade is similar or dissimilar in clades of different ages. We compare the relationship between the rates of trait evolution and clade age across eight monophyletic clades of passerine birds by investigating ecomorphological traits, i.e. morphological traits that are of high ecological importance. We study the ecomorphological divergence pattern using disparity through time analyses and then determine the best-fitting model of evolution for each trait in each clade. We find no support for a dependence of evolutionary rates on clade age, and further show that Early Burst models of trait evolution are rarely the best fitting models within these clades. Our results reveal the unpredictability of ecomorphological trait evolution despite commonly suggested evolutionary patterns of key innovations or adaptive radiations.

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Additional Info

Field Value
Geographic coverage
Geographic description Global
Bounding coordinates
North: 90.0
West: 180.0
East: -180.0
South: -90.0
Temporal coverage
Timestep November 1, 2014
Taxonomic coverage
Family Cardinalidae
Family Parulidae (Setophaga-Myiothlypis clade)
Family Tyrannidae (Xolmiini clade)
Family Muscicapidae (Oenanthe-Monticola clade)
Family Turdidae (genus Turdus)
Family Hirundinidae
Family Vireonidae
Family Corvidae (genus Corvus)
General taxonomic description The following clades were chosen across the order of passerine birds (Aves: Passeriformes) based on morphological diversity, high phylogenetic resolution, and a similar species richness in each clade: Cardinalidae, Parulidae (Setophaga-Myiothlypis clade), Tyrannidae (Xolmiini clade), Muscicapidae (Oenanthe-Monticola clade), Turdidae (genus Turdus), Hirundinidae, Vireonidae, Corvidae (genus Corvus). Species names follow IOC taxonomy v 5.01.
Other info
Last Updated December 17, 2020, 15:46 (UTC)
Created December 17, 2020, 15:45 (UTC)

Responsible parties

Name Anna Phillips
Organization affiliations
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F)


Name Susanne Fritz
Organization affiliations
Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F)

Senckenberganlage 25
60325 Frankfurt am Main

Associated party
Name Anna Phillips

Associated party
Name Katrin Böhning-Gaese

Associated party
Name Susanne Fritz

Research data management planning

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