Morphological rates of angiosperm seed size evolution

Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution
Hallie J Sims


The evolution of seed size among angiosperms reflects their ecological diversification in a complex fitness landscape of life-history strategies. The lineages that have evolved seeds beyond the upper and lower boundaries that defined nonflowering seed plants since the Paleozoic are more dispersed across the angiosperm phylogeny than would be expected under a neutral model of phenotypic evolution. Morphological rates of seed size evolution estimated for 40 clades based on 17,375 species ranged from 0.001 (Garryales) to 0.207 (Malvales). Comparative phylogenetic analysis indicated that morphological rates are not associated with the clade's seed size but are negatively correlated with the clade's position in the overall distribution of angiosperm seed sizes; clades with seed sizes closer to the angiosperm mean had significantly higher morphological rates than clades with extremely small or extremely large seeds. Likewise, per-clade taxonomic diversification rates are not associated with the seed size of the clade but with where the clade falls within the angiosperm seed size distribution. These results suggest that evolutionary rates (morphological and taxonomic) are elevated in densely occupied regions of the seed morphospace re...Continue Reading


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