Boyce Lab

Congratulations to Josh Pigeon for successfully defending his MSc Thesis!

On January 17, MSc student Josh Pigeon presented on this thesis work titled ” Cranial morphometrics of pine marten ( Martes americana) and weather during development. His work looked at analyzing morphometric measurements of marten skulls collected from Nordegg over a span of 20 years. Please see below for the abstract of his research and stay tuned for the upcoming publication. Congratulations on successfully defending  Josh!



Abstract: Globally, climate change is significantly affecting species in a myriad of ways. Rapid morphological change has been a proposed effect of climate change, but evidence is minimal. Furthermore, any such rapid morphological change is expected to involve a phenotypic response, i.e., phenotypic plasticity. Adaptive, neutral, and non-adaptive plasticity in the form of reaction norms and non-adaptive plasticity such as fluctuating asymmetry can provide insights into a population’s ability to adapt to climate variability. I explored weather variation during critical developmental periods, because direct effects of weather variability would occur during periods of the development of young. Using geometric morphometrics, I explored patterns of covariation between morphological variation in a population of American pine marten (Martes americana) near Nordegg, Alberta, and variation in weather metrics when young are growing during prenatal (February-April) and postnatal (May-July) developmental periods. Analysis of variation in cranial morphology revealed significant covariation between symmetric morphological variation and weather metrics during early postnatal development. I did not find significant covariation between fluctuating asymmetry and weather during development. Our findings are congruent with similar studies, and point to both direct and indirect effects of “climate-induced” weather variation, including the potential of a feeding ecology mechanism as an explanation for the covariation.

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