Biomechanics on the Half Shell: Functional Performance Influences Patterns of Morphological Variation in the Emydid Turtle carapace
This study uses the carapace of emydid turtles to address hypothesized differences between terrestrial and aquatic species. Geometric morphometrics are used to quantify shell shape, and performance is estimated for two shell functions: shell strength and hydrodynamics. Aquatic turtle shells differ in shape from terrestrial turtle shells and are characterized by lower frontal areas and presumably lower drag. Terrestrial turtle shells are stronger than those of aquatic turtles; many-to-one mapping of morphology to function does not entirely mitigate a functional trade-off between mechanical strength and hydrodynamic performance. Furthermore, areas of morphospace characterized by exceptionally poor performance in either of the functions are not occupied by any emydid species. Though aquatic and terrestrial species show no significant differences in the rate of morphological evolution, aquatic species show a higher lineage density, indicative of a greater amount of convergence in their evolutionary history. The techniques employed in this study, including the modeling of theoretical shapes to assess performance in unoccupied areas of morphospace, suggest a framework for future studies of morphological variation.
Stayton, Tristan. "Biomechanics on the Half Shell: Functional Performance Influences Patterns of Morphological Variation in the Emydid Turtle carapace." Zoology 114, no. 4 (2011) : 213-223.