McGowan, A.J. and Dyke, G.J.
A morphospace-based test for competitive exclusion among flying vertebrates: did birds, bats and pterosaurs get in each other's space?
Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20, (3), . (doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01285.x).
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Three vertebrate groups – birds, bats and pterosaurs – have evolved flapping flight over the past 200 million years. This innovation allowed each clade access to new ecological opportunities, but did the diversification of one of these groups inhibit the evolutionary radiation of any of the others? A related question is whether having the wing attached to the hindlimbs in bats and pterosaurs constrained their morphological diversity relative to birds. Fore- and hindlimb measurements from 894 specimens were used to construct a morphospace to assess morphological overlap and range, a possible indicator of competition, among the three clades. Neither birds nor bats entered pterosaur morphospace across the Cretaceous–Paleogene (Tertiary) extinction. Bats plot in a separate area from birds, and have a significantly smaller morphological range than either birds or pterosaurs. On the basis of these results, competitive exclusion among the three groups is not supported
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