Does Variation in Morphology Correspond with Variation in Habitat use in Freshwater Gastropods?

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We tested if variations (i.e., breadth) in morphology and habitat use vary predictably among six aquatic gastropod species that were collected across Indiana and Illinois, USA. We predicted that interspecific morphological variation would positively covary with variation in habitat use among species. We used geometric morphometrics (Procrustes technique and relative warp analysis) to quantify morphology and multivariate analyses (PCA) to quantify habitat. Increased morphological breadth did not vary predictably with increased habitat breadth. However, we found that life history traits correspond with patterns in morphological and habitat breadth for these six aquatic gastropods. Pulmonate gastropods (use lungs for respiration) that lack an operculum cover exhibited decreased morphological breadth compared to coenogastropods (use gills for respiration). This pattern may ultimately be a function of behavioral adaptations in freshwater gastropods. Gastropods that are capable of breathing air or using other behavioral modifications such as burrowing to escape predators may not require high morphological breadth. Conversely, selection may favor higher morphological breadth in gastropods with gills that also do not move out of the water column to escape predators. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]



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