, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 494-502
Date: 15 Mar 2014

Do Correlation Patterns Reflect the Role of Development in Morphological Evolution?

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Abstract

Correlation patterns have been widely used in evolutionary studies for exploring the role of development in channelling morphological evolution. The approach was firstly introduced by Olson and Miller in the 1950s, but it did not gain prominence until the 1980s, due to some extent to Gould and Lewontin’s (Proc R Soc Lond B 205:581–598, 1979) assertion of the importance of considering organisms as integrated entities, where the internal organization of a structure, and not only the selective regime acting upon it, would play a fundamental role in its evolution. Here we show that this approach, mainly focused on the study of small, quantitative shape changes of existing structures, does not deal with a fundamental aspect of developmental systems, that is, their intrinsic capacity of originating morphological novelties. We show that only when the physicochemical processes underlying morphogenesis and pattern formation are taken into account, would the causal role of development be fully incorporated into the evolutionary view.