Developmental Constraints and Evolution of the Lateral Line System in Teleost Fishes

  • Jacqueline F. Webb
Conference paper


Evolution has been described as the result of two independent and sequential processes: the origin of variation and natural selection. The phenotypic variation upon which natural selection acts is, in turn, a result of processes that generate as well as those that limit variation (Alberch 1980, 1982b). The processes that generate variation (mutation, recombination) have been the mainstay of evolutionary thought for the past century (Mayr 1982), but many processes limit and channel variation to produce “morphological gaps” (Alberch 1980,1982b). These gaps or “potential morphospaces” remain unoccupied, not because of the absence of appropriate selection pressures, but because historical (phylogenetic) and ontogenetic constraints on morphological change limit morphological variation (Liem and Wake 1985). Consideration of the contributions of these constraints in morphological evolution (e.g., Gould and Lewontin 1979; Alberch 1980) challenges the adaptationist program that has prevailed in the field of evolutionary biology for the past century.


Lateral Line Lateral Line System Lateral Line Scale Lateral Line Canal Superficial Neuromast 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1989

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  • Jacqueline F. Webb

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