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Publication - Professor Christine Janis

    Mammal body size evolution in North America and Europe over 20 Myr:

    similar trends generated by different processes

    Citation

    Huang, S, Eronen, J, Janis, C, Saarinen, J, Silvestro, D & Fritz, S, 2017, ‘Mammal body size evolution in North America and Europe over 20 Myr: similar trends generated by different processes’. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 284.

    Abstract

    Because body size interacts with many fundamental biological properties of
    a species, body size evolution can be an essential component of the generation
    and maintenance of biodiversity. Here we investigate how body size
    evolution can be linked to the clade-specific diversification dynamics in
    different geographical regions. We analyse an extensive body size dataset
    of Neogene large herbivores (covering approx. 50% of the 970 species in
    the orders Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla) in Europe and North America
    in a Bayesian framework. We reconstruct the temporal patterns of body
    size in each order on each continent independently, and find significant
    increases of minimum size in three of the continental assemblages (except
    European perissodactyls), suggesting an active selection for larger bodies.
    Assessment of trait-correlated birth-death models indicates that the
    common trend of body size increase is generated by different processes in
    different clades and regions. Larger-bodied artiodactyl species on both continents
    tend to have higher origination rates, and both clades in North
    America show strong links between large bodies and low extinction rate.
    Collectively, our results suggest a strong role of species selection and perhaps
    of higher-taxon sorting in driving body size evolution, and highlight
    the value of investigating evolutionary processes in a biogeographic context.

    Full details in the University publications repository