Phylogeny, body morphology, and trophic level shape intestinal traits in coral reef fishes - Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie Accéder directement au contenu
Article Dans Une Revue Ecology and Evolution Année : 2021

Phylogeny, body morphology, and trophic level shape intestinal traits in coral reef fishes


Trait-based approaches are increasingly used to study species assemblages and understand ecosystem functioning. The strength of these approaches lies in the appropriate choice of functional traits that relate to the functions of interest. However, trait–function relationships are often supported by weak empirical evidence. Processes related to digestion and nutrient assimilation are particularly challenging to integrate into trait-based approaches. In fishes, intestinal length is commonly used to describe these functions. Although there is broad consensus concerning the relationship between fish intestinal length and diet, evolutionary and environmental forces have shaped a diversity of intestinal morphologies that is not captured by length alone. Focusing on coral reef fishes, we investigate how evolutionary history and ecology shape intestinal morphology. Using a large dataset encompassing 142 species across 31 families collected in French Polynesia, we test how phylogeny, body morphology, and diet relate to three intestinal morphological traits: intestinal length, diameter, and surface area. We demonstrate that phylogeny, body morphology, and trophic level explain most of the interspecific variability in fish intestinal morphology. Despite the high degree of phylogenetic conservatism, taxonomically unrelated herbivorous fishes exhibit similar intestinal morphology due to adaptive convergent evolution. Furthermore, we show that stomachless, durophagous species have the widest intestines to compensate for the lack of a stomach and allow passage of relatively large undigested food particles. Rather than traditionally applied metrics of intestinal length, intestinal surface area may be the most appropriate trait to characterize intestinal morphology in functional studies.
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Dates et versions

hal-03466533 , version 1 (06-12-2021)



Mattia Ghilardi, Nina M D Schiettekatte, Jordan M Casey, Simon J Brandl, Samuel Degregori, et al.. Phylogeny, body morphology, and trophic level shape intestinal traits in coral reef fishes. Ecology and Evolution, 2021, 11 (19), pp.13218 - 13231. ⟨10.1002/ece3.8045⟩. ⟨hal-03466533⟩
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