Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Naples, Virginia L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


Carnivora--Madagascar--Morphology; Carnivora--Evolution--Madagascar


To occupy an ecological niche, a carnivoran species must possess the necessary morphotype to consistently capture and process resources. In theory, two species would inevitably compete with one another if they occupied the same niche. Carnivoran diversity is related to niche differentiation, which can be facilitated spatially, temporally, or morphologically. Differences in diet preference and prey preference among carnivorans are effectively indicated by variations in craniodental morphology. Eupleridae is the sole carnivoran lineage in Madagascar and many of its species coexist in its eastern lowland rainforests and other ecoregions. This study described, in detail, the craniodental morphology of eight euplerid species. Ten craniodental characters were chosen that are functionally significant in dictating diet and prey preferences, which are means for morphological niche differentiation among carnivorans. The following hypotheses were tested: (1) there is no differences in craniodental morphology among the euplerid species, (2) there is no difference in pattern between the evolution of Eupleridae and the evolutions of Carnivora and Carnivoramorpha. Principal component analyses established seven different morphotypes among species, based on diet preference and prey preference. Only Galidia elegans and Galidictis fasciata, occupied the same morphospace. Because they also occupy the same geographic range, they must vary temporally. Morphological niche differentiation characterizes the rest of the family. Some euplerids exhibit morphotypes that make them ecomorphs to species belonging to phylogenetically distinct carnivoran families absent in Madagascar. Results suggest an isolated carnivoran lineage prioritizes morphological niche differentiation over spatial or temporal variation.


Advisors: Virginia L. Naples.||Committee members: Robert K. McAfee; Karen Samonds.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


v, 61 pages




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