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Cranial shape diversification in horses: variation and covariation patterns under the impact of artificial selection

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Hanot,  Pauline
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Bayarsaikhan,  Jamsranjav
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Hanot, P., Bayarsaikhan, J., Guintard, C., Haruda, A., Mijiddorj, E., Schafberg, R., et al. (2021). Cranial shape diversification in horses: variation and covariation patterns under the impact of artificial selection. BMC Ecology and Evolution, 21(1): 178. doi:10.1186/s12862-021-01907-5.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-666A-E
Abstract
The potential of artificial selection to dramatically impact phenotypic diversity is well known. Large-scale morphological changes in domestic species, emerging over short timescales, offer an accelerated perspective on evolutionary processes. The domestic horse (Equus caballus) provides a striking example of rapid evolution, with major changes in morphology and size likely stemming from artificial selection. However, the microevolutionary mechanisms allowing to generate this variation in a short time interval remain little known. Here, we use 3D geometric morphometrics to quantify skull morphological diversity in the horse, and investigate modularity and integration patterns to understand how morphological associations contribute to cranial evolvability in this taxon. We find that changes in the magnitude of cranial integration contribute to the diversification of the skull morphology in horse breeds. Our results demonstrate that a conserved pattern of modularity does not constrain large-scale morphological variations in horses and that artificial selection has impacted mechanisms underlying phenotypic diversity to facilitate rapid shape changes. More broadly, this study demonstrates that studying microevolutionary processes in domestic species produces important insights into extant phenotypic diversity.