Ghilardi, Mattia ORCID:, Schiettekatte, Nina M. D. ORCID:, Casey, Jordan M. ORCID:, Brandl, Simon J. ORCID:, Degregori, Samuel, Mercière, Alexandre, Morat, Fabien ORCID:, Letourneur, Yves ORCID:, Bejarano, Sonia ORCID: and Parravicini, Valeriano ORCID: (2021) Phylogeny, body morphology, and trophic level shape intestinal traits in coral reef fishes. Ecology and Evolution, 00 . pp. 1-14. DOI

[img] Text
Ghilardi et al. 2021 Ecol Evol.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0.

Download (1MB)


1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Rather than traditionally applied metrics of intestinal length, intestinal surface area may be the most appropriate trait to characterize intestinal morphology in functional studies

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Ecology > Reef Systems
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
ISSN: 2045-7758
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2021 07:54
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:31

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item