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Convergence and Parallelism in Foot Morphology in the Neotropical Salamander Genus Bolitoglossa. I. Function

Pere Alberch
Evolution
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Jan., 1981), pp. 84-100
DOI: 10.2307/2407944
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407944
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Convergence and Parallelism in Foot Morphology in the Neotropical Salamander Genus Bolitoglossa. I. Function
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Abstract

Members of the salamander genus Bolitoglossa (family Plethodontidae) show a striking degree of diversification in hand and foot morphology. Modifications in volve reduction and loss of phalangeal elements, development of interdigital webbing, and fusion of tarsal and carpal elements. These derived structural features are always associated with the invasion of the lowland tropics and a trend towards arboreality. A quantitative functional analysis is performed and results are presented of experiments designed to elucidate the functional significance of these structural modifications. This information is used to perform a theoretical analysis integrating biomechanical adaptation and ontogeny. This analysis is used to generate and test certain predictions about allometric growth in foot surface area in arboreal species. The derived condition in foot morphology (webbing and reduction of phalangeal elements) is a convergent character that has emerged repeatedly through at least two different evolutionary pathways: 1) selection for suction efficiency, which favors feet with relatively larger surface area, together with shortening and expansion of terminal phalanges and interdigital webbing, and 2) selection for small body size. In the latter case, webbing and reduction of phalanges comprise a paedomorphic trait (most likely the result of developmental truncation).

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