Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Correlates of rate heterogeneity in avian ecomorphological traits

Chira, A. M.; Cooney, C. R.; Bright, J. A.; Capp, E. J. R.; Hughes, E. C.; Moody, C. J. A.; Nouri, L. O.; Varley, Z. K.; Thomas, G. H.


A. M. Chira

C. R. Cooney

E. J. R. Capp

E. C. Hughes

C. J. A. Moody

L. O. Nouri

Z. K. Varley

G. H. Thomas


Heterogeneity in rates of trait evolution is widespread, but it remains unclear which processes drive fast and slow character divergence across global radiations. Here, we test multiple hypotheses for explaining rate variation in an ecomorphological trait (beak shape) across a globally distributed group (birds). We find low support that variation in evolutionary rates of species is correlated with life history, environmental mutagenic factors, range size, number of competitors, or living on islands. Indeed, after controlling for the negative effect of species' age, 80% of variation in species‐specific evolutionary rates remains unexplained. At the clade level, high evolutionary rates are associated with unusual phenotypes or high species richness. Taken together, these results imply that macroevolutionary rates of ecomorphological traits are governed by both ecological opportunity in distinct adaptive zones and niche differentiation among closely related species.


Capp, E. J., Moody, C. J., Chira, A. M., Cooney, C. R., Bright, J. A., Capp, E. J. R., …Thomas, G. H. (2018). Correlates of rate heterogeneity in avian ecomorphological traits. Ecology letters, 21(10), 1505-1514.

Journal Article Type Letter
Acceptance Date Jul 5, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 21, 2018
Publication Date 2018-10
Deposit Date Nov 28, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 9, 2019
Journal Ecology Letters
Print ISSN 1461-023X
Electronic ISSN 1461-0248
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 10
Pages 1505-1514
Keywords Ecological opportunity; Morphological distinctiveness; Rate heterogeneity; Trait evolution
Public URL
Publisher URL


Published article (684 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
©2018 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by CNRS and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use,distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations