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      Terrestrial reproduction as an adaptation to steep terrain in African toads

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          Abstract

          <p class="first" id="d14744992e339">How evolutionary novelties evolve is a major question in evolutionary biology. It is widely accepted that changes in environmental conditions shift the position of selective optima, and advancements in phylogenetic comparative approaches allow the rigorous testing of such correlated transitions. A longstanding question in vertebrate biology has been the evolution of terrestrial life histories in amphibians and here, by investigating African bufonids, we test whether terrestrial modes of reproduction have evolved as adaptations to particular abiotic habitat parameters. We reconstruct and date the most complete species-level molecular phylogeny and estimate ancestral states for reproductive modes. By correlating continuous habitat measurements from remote sensing data and locality records with life-history transitions, we discover that terrestrial modes of reproduction, including viviparity evolved multiple times in this group, most often directly from fully aquatic modes. Terrestrial modes of reproduction are strongly correlated with steep terrain and low availability of accumulated water sources. Evolutionary transitions to terrestrial modes of reproduction occurred synchronously with or after transitions in habitat, and we, therefore, interpret terrestrial breeding as an adaptation to these abiotic conditions, rather than an exaptation that facilitated the colonization of montane habitats. </p>

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          Most cited references 39

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          The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians

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            Phylogenetic Comparative Analysis: A Modeling Approach for Adaptive Evolution

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              Stochastic mapping of morphological characters.

              Many questions in evolutionary biology are best addressed by comparing traits in different species. Often such studies involve mapping characters on phylogenetic trees. Mapping characters on trees allows the nature, number, and timing of the transformations to be identified. The parsimony method is the only method available for mapping morphological characters on phylogenies. Although the parsimony method often makes reasonable reconstructions of the history of a character, it has a number of limitations. These limitations include the inability to consider more than a single change along a branch on a tree and the uncoupling of evolutionary time from amount of character change. We extended a method described by Nielsen (2002, Syst. Biol. 51:729-739) to the mapping of morphological characters under continuous-time Markov models and demonstrate here the utility of the method for mapping characters on trees and for identifying character correlation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Proc. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8452
                1471-2954
                March 29 2017
                March 29 2017
                March 29 2017
                March 29 2017
                : 284
                : 1851
                : 20162598
                Article
                10.1098/rspb.2016.2598
                5378084
                28356450
                © 2017

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