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Assessing the patterns and drivers of shape complexity in the amblypygid pedipalp

McLean, Callum, Garwood, Russell and Brassey, Charlotte ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6552-541X (2021) Assessing the patterns and drivers of shape complexity in the amblypygid pedipalp. Ecology and Evolution. ISSN 2045-7758

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Amblypygi is an arachnid order possessing a unique pair of spined pedipalps: appendages that perform in prey capture, courtship, and contest. Pedipalp length, hypothesized to be under sexual selection, varies markedly across amblypygid species, and pedipalp spination, thought to reflect selection for function in prey capture, also differs interspecifically. Differences in pedipalp shape between species may indicate that the relative strength of selection for prey capture and sexual selection vary across the group. However, interspecific differences in pedipalp shape have not been quantified, due to difficulties in identifying homologous features. For the first time, we quantify trends in amblypygid pedipalp shape complexity. We use elliptical Fourier analysis to quantify 2D complexity in pedipalp outlines across eleven species and six genera. We find that complexity significantly decreases as pedipalp length increases. This appears to be driven by relative spine length, suggesting that a trade-off exists between pedipalp length and spination. Furthermore, significant female-biased sexual dimorphism in shape complexity is present in the tibial segment of the amblypygid pedipalp. Our results provide novel insights into the drivers of amblypygid pedipalp evolution and suggest that a functional trade-off between performance in prey capture and other functions under sexual selection exist in this enigmatic structure.

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