NSF Project #: IOS 1025845
Key innovations have long been of interest to evolutionary biologists since such innovations are causally related to adaptive radiations. Cypriniform fishes, which comprise approximately 25% of all freshwater fishes are characterized by a number of evolutionary innovations associated with feeding that may have led to their own adaptive radiation. Although cypriniform fishes comprise an enormous proportion of the freshwater biota relatively little is known about the feeding novelties that characterize this diverse group. This integrative project combines molecular developmental techniques, functional morphological approaches, and comparative methods to investigate the origin and ultimate evolutionary consequences of cypriniform morphological novelties. The different developmental mechanisms involved in the generation of these novelties will be investigated using molecular techniques. A number of experimental approaches (high-speed video, PIV, and XROMM) will be used to investigate functional implications of these feeding novelties. Finally comparative methods will be used to determine the role of correlated evolution in the diversification of certain families within cypriniforms. Results will: clarify the role of different developmental mechanisms in the origin of evolutionary novelty, detail performance implications of novelties that have resulted from different developmental mechanisms, and determine the role of correlated evolution in adaptive radiations. This evo-devo project is unique in examining novelty at several levels starting from a developmental genetic level, through performance, and ultimately to evolutionary consequences. This project also has significant broader impacts including promoting careers in science, interdisciplinary training of all personnel, continued recruiting of underrepresented minorities, and training of K-12 teachers during summer research programs to do simple experiments using zebrafish. Results will be disseminated broadly at varied scientific meetings, university presentations, and an established series of lectures to elementary school students. High-speed videos, as well as developmental techniques, will be available via online sources.