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Exploring the relationship between skeletal mass and total body mass in birds

Exploring the relationship between skeletal mass and total body mass in birds
Exploring the relationship between skeletal mass and total body mass in birds
Total body mass (TBM) is known to be related to a number of different osteological features in vertebrates, including limb element measurements and total skeletal mass. The relationship between skeletal mass and TBM in birds has been suggested as a way of estimating the latter in cases where only the skeleton is known (e.g., fossils). This relationship has thus also been applied to other extinct vertebrates, including the non-avian pterosaurs, while other studies have used additional skeletal correlates found in modern birds to estimate TBM. However, most previous studies have used TBM compiled from the literature rather than from direct measurements, producing values from population averages rather than from individuals. Here, we report a new dataset of 487 extant birds encompassing 79 species that have skeletal mass and TBM recorded at the time of collection or preparation. We combine both historical and new data for analyses with phylogenetic control and find a similar and well-correlated relationship between skeletal mass and TBM. Thus, we confirm that TBM and skeletal mass are accurate proxies for estimating one another. We also look at other factors that may have an effect on avian body mass, including sex, ontogenetic stage, and flight mode. While data are well-correlated in all cases, phylogeny is a major control on TBM in birds strongly suggesting that this relationship is not appropriate for estimating the total mass of taxa outside of crown birds, Neornithes (e.g., non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs). Data also reveal large variability in both bird skeletal and TBM within single species; caution should thus be applied when using published mass to test direct correlations with skeletal mass and bone lengths.
1932-6203
e0141794
Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth
4f87b172-3ce1-42d5-ad23-68a48169f2a3
Vincze, Orsolya
3d661962-c5b5-46eb-aae3-3555360d999f
Ria, McCann
0b177ab2-987c-4f5b-b62b-2ab6e24b3d51
Jonsson, Carl
02cff94a-812d-4652-9760-3a31de4fd0de
Colin, Palmer
93662861-fb13-45b9-83fd-fd45f4fef5e5
Gary, Kaiser
24fd48c2-114b-44fa-a469-12e70a94341e
Dyke, Gareth
600ca61e-b40b-4c86-b8ae-13be4e331e94
Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth
4f87b172-3ce1-42d5-ad23-68a48169f2a3
Vincze, Orsolya
3d661962-c5b5-46eb-aae3-3555360d999f
Ria, McCann
0b177ab2-987c-4f5b-b62b-2ab6e24b3d51
Jonsson, Carl
02cff94a-812d-4652-9760-3a31de4fd0de
Colin, Palmer
93662861-fb13-45b9-83fd-fd45f4fef5e5
Gary, Kaiser
24fd48c2-114b-44fa-a469-12e70a94341e
Dyke, Gareth
600ca61e-b40b-4c86-b8ae-13be4e331e94

Martin-Silverstone, Elizabeth, Vincze, Orsolya, Ria, McCann, Jonsson, Carl, Colin, Palmer, Gary, Kaiser and Dyke, Gareth (2015) Exploring the relationship between skeletal mass and total body mass in birds. PLoS ONE, 10 (10), e0141794. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141794).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Total body mass (TBM) is known to be related to a number of different osteological features in vertebrates, including limb element measurements and total skeletal mass. The relationship between skeletal mass and TBM in birds has been suggested as a way of estimating the latter in cases where only the skeleton is known (e.g., fossils). This relationship has thus also been applied to other extinct vertebrates, including the non-avian pterosaurs, while other studies have used additional skeletal correlates found in modern birds to estimate TBM. However, most previous studies have used TBM compiled from the literature rather than from direct measurements, producing values from population averages rather than from individuals. Here, we report a new dataset of 487 extant birds encompassing 79 species that have skeletal mass and TBM recorded at the time of collection or preparation. We combine both historical and new data for analyses with phylogenetic control and find a similar and well-correlated relationship between skeletal mass and TBM. Thus, we confirm that TBM and skeletal mass are accurate proxies for estimating one another. We also look at other factors that may have an effect on avian body mass, including sex, ontogenetic stage, and flight mode. While data are well-correlated in all cases, phylogeny is a major control on TBM in birds strongly suggesting that this relationship is not appropriate for estimating the total mass of taxa outside of crown birds, Neornithes (e.g., non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs). Data also reveal large variability in both bird skeletal and TBM within single species; caution should thus be applied when using published mass to test direct correlations with skeletal mass and bone lengths.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 28 October 2015
Published date: October 2015
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

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Local EPrints ID: 382922
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/382922
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 6f2f8ec3-19a9-4693-936b-535715cb1a5e

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Date deposited: 16 Oct 2015 12:17
Last modified: 07 Jan 2022 21:46

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Contributors

Author: Elizabeth Martin-Silverstone
Author: Orsolya Vincze
Author: McCann Ria
Author: Carl Jonsson
Author: Palmer Colin
Author: Kaiser Gary
Author: Gareth Dyke

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