The mouse mandible consists of several morphogenetic units that are usually grouped into two main modules: the alveolar region and the ascending ramus. The genetic/ontogenetic modularity of the two regions implies that they might evolve independently to some extent. In particular, evolutionary modularity in quantitative traits could arise during chromosomal speciation due to lower gene flow in rearranged chromosomes. With the aim of uncovering the autonomous evolution of the mandible modules, the form variation of each of them was assessed in the house mouse Robertsonian system from Barcelona, in which chromosomal variation and geographical distance may act as isolation factors. The association between these factors and morphological changes was analysed to determine their contribution to the differentiation of each module. Although size changes in the two modules were highly correlated, shape changes were not, and their association with karyotype differences, but not geographical distance, was dependent on the module. The results support the existence of two evolutionary modules and highlight the importance of size in morphological integration of the mandible. They also suggest that geographical distance and chromosomal reorganizations reduce gene flow between karyotypically divergent populations, but although geographical distance represents a global barrier to gene flow, the isolation produced by a set of chromosomal reorganizations only affects particular modules, probably depending on the number and location of loci with effects on a particular morphological region. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2011 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.
- Geographical distance
- House mouse
- Iberian Peninsula
- Morphological differentiation
- Robertsonian translocations