Morphological Diversification of Anostomid and Curimatid Fishes

EPA Grant Number: U915987
Title: Morphological Diversification of Anostomid and Curimatid Fishes
Investigators: Sidlauskas, Brian L.
Institution: University of Chicago
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Zoology , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences


The objective of this research project is to take advantage of a rare natural experiment to investigate how and why species in the South American freshwater fish lineage Anostomidae have evolved a diversity of head and jaw shapes that greatly exceeds that of its sister lineage, the sympatric and equally species-rich Curimatidae.


Using a multivariate morphological space (morphospace) derived from the geometry of anostomid and curimatid skulls, I calculate the morphological diversity (disparity) of each family and address the evolution of morphological diversity along a phylogeny. Anostomidae morphological diversity is measured to be at least twice that of the curimatids, and the increased morphological diversity in anostomids appears to be relatively ancient. Although both lineages attained much of their current morphological diversity early in phylogenesis, the Curimatidae appear to have experienced an early saturation of morphological space, while the Anostomidae continued to evolve novel morphologies and occupy new morphospace regions. This research project will help identify uniquely derived morphological and ecological factors that may have promoted morphological diversification and help explain why morphological diversity is distributed unevenly across the tree of life.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, morphological space, morphospace, morphologies, morphological diversity, morphological diversification, morphological factors, ecological factors, Anostomidae, anostomid, Curimatidae, curimatid, South America.

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 180KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final