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Open Access Research article

Convergent and parallel evolution in life habit of the scallops (Bivalvia: Pectinidae)

Alvin Alejandrino1, Louise Puslednik12 and Jeanne M Serb1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011, USA

2 Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, 2519 Australia

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2011, 11:164  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-164

Published: 14 June 2011

Abstract

Background

We employed a phylogenetic framework to identify patterns of life habit evolution in the marine bivalve family Pectinidae. Specifically, we examined the number of independent origins of each life habit and distinguished between convergent and parallel trajectories of life habit evolution using ancestral state estimation. We also investigated whether ancestral character states influence the frequency or type of evolutionary trajectories.

Results

We determined that temporary attachment to substrata by byssal threads is the most likely ancestral condition for the Pectinidae, with subsequent transitions to the five remaining habit types. Nearly all transitions between life habit classes were repeated in our phylogeny and the majority of these transitions were the result of parallel evolution from byssate ancestors. Convergent evolution also occurred within the Pectinidae and produced two additional gliding clades and two recessing lineages. Furthermore, our analysis indicates that byssal attaching gave rise to significantly more of the transitions than any other life habit and that the cementing and nestling classes are only represented as evolutionary outcomes in our phylogeny, never as progenitor states.

Conclusions

Collectively, our results illustrate that both convergence and parallelism generated repeated life habit states in the scallops. Bias in the types of habit transitions observed may indicate constraints due to physical or ontogenetic limitations of particular phenotypes.