By accompanying human travels since prehistorical times, the house mouse dispersed widely throughout the world, and colonized many islands. The origin of the travellers determined the phylogenetic source of the insular mice, which encountered diverse ecological and environmental conditions on the various islands. Insular mice are thus an exceptional model to disentangle the relative role of phylogeny, ecology and climate in evolution. Molar shape is known to vary according to phylogeny and to respond to adaptation. Using for the first time a three-dimensional geometric morphometric approach, compared with a classical two-dimensional quantification, the relative effects of size variation, phylogeny, climate and ecology were investigated on molar shape diversity across a variety of islands. Phylogeny emerged as the factor of prime importance in shaping the molar. Changes in competition level, mostly driven by the presence or absence of the wood mouse on the different islands, appeared as the second most important effect. Climate and size differences accounted for slight shape variation. This evidences a balanced role of random differentiation related to history of colonization, and of adaptation possibly related to resource exploitation.
- Received November 23, 2015.
- Accepted January 8, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.