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Journal Articles Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research Year : 2010

Adaptation and plasticity in insular evolution of the house mouse mandible

Sabrina Renaud
J-C. Auffray
  • Function : Author


Morphometric methods allow the quantification of directions of phenotypic changes and their statistical comparison in a morphometric space. We applied this approach to investigate several candidate factors to explain changes in mandible shape occurring in house mice (Mus musculus domesticus, Mammalia, Rodentia) in Corsica and a nearby islet. The role of niche widening and of the concomitant change in diet was evaluated by comparing the micro-evolutionary insular change to the macro-evolutionary difference between omnivorous and herbivorous rodents. Phenotypic plasticity, which may contribute to rapid insular evolution, was assessed by breeding laboratory mice on hard versus soft food. The related change in mandible shape was compared with differences between continental and insular populations. The role of allometry was evaluated by assessing shape change related to size within the continental population and comparing this direction of change with differences on islands. Finally, evolution may be facilitated along the direction of the greatest phenotypic variance. This hypothesis was tested by computing in wild populations vectors corresponding to this direction and by comparing these vectors with those corresponding to estimates of shape changes related to plasticity, micro-and macro-evolutionary processes. In Corsica, the congruence in directions of macro-and micro-evolutionary phenotypic vectors (Corsican/continental mice versus omnivorous/herbivorous rodents) supports the hypothesis of adaptation in mandible shape evolution. By contrast, on the islet, phenotypic divergence follows directions of plastic response to food consistency as well as within-population allometry. Thus, results suggest differences in the relative importance of processes which may influence rodent mandibular shape depending on the size of the islands they colonized. Faster evolution and plasticity may be more evident in small and often ephemeral populations living on small islands, whereas micro-evolutionary processes may have enough time and genetic variability to progressively 'align' with macro-evolutionary trends in large populations from big islands.

Dates and versions

hal-00698175 , version 1 (16-05-2012)



Sabrina Renaud, J-C. Auffray. Adaptation and plasticity in insular evolution of the house mouse mandible. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 2010, 48 (2), pp.138-150. ⟨10.1111/j.1439-0469.2009.00527.x⟩. ⟨hal-00698175⟩
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