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Morphological integration, modularity and evolution of organismal shapes

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  • Full or part time
    Prof C Klingenberg
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The shapes of organisms are integrated so that functionally and developmentally interacting parts vary together. Morphological integration is often clearly structured, so that there are modules that are tightly integrated internally and relatively independent of other modules. Such integration and modularity is thought to be the result of adaptive evolution and, in turn, it also influences the potential for further evolution. My lab uses the methods of geometric morphometrics to address various questions concerning integration and modularity of shapes in diverse study systems including fly wings and mammalian skulls. We also have developed new methods for examining patterns of integration, for testing hypotheses of modularity and for inferring the developmental basis of morphological integration.

Your project will expand on this work. Current challenges in the field concern the evolution of integration and its genetic basis. Accordingly, your project could either use a comparative approach or the methods of quantitative genetics. Depending on these choices, your research could be lab-based or primarily use museum collections. It is also possible to include a component of methods development into the project in addition to the empirical work. The precise topic of your project will be decided after discussion, and so it is possible to take into account your previous background and experience as well as your interests and personal preferences.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website. Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.


•Klingenberg, C. P. 2009. Morphometric integration and modularity in configurations of landmarks: tools for evaluating a-priori hypotheses. Evolution & Development 11:405–421.
•Klingenberg, C. P., and N. A. Gidaszewski. 2010. Testing and quantifying phylogenetic signals and homoplasy in morphometric data. Systematic Biology 59:245–261.
•Klingenberg, C. P. 2010. Evolution and development of shape: integrating quantitative approaches. Nature Reviews Genetics 11:623–635.
•Klingenberg, C. P., S. Duttke, S. Whelan, and M. Kim. 2012. Developmental plasticity, morphological variation and evolvability: a multilevel analysis of morphometric integration in the shape of compound leaves. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25:115–129.
•Martínez-Abadías, N., M. Esparza, T. Sjøvold, R. González-José, M. Santos, M. Hernández, and C. P. Klingenberg. 2012. Pervasive genetic integration directs the evolution of human skull shape. Evolution 66:1010–1023.

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