Chris J Law

Chris J Law
University of Texas at Austin | UT · Department of Integrative Biology

PhD

About

34
Publications
14,854
Reads
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369
Citations
Introduction
As an organismal biologist, my research program examines how morphological variation affects the performance, behavior, and ecology of animals at the species- and individual-levels. Specifically, I test the mechanisms that contribute to (1) the generation and maintenance of species and phenotypic diversity across macroevolutionary scales and (2) the variation of survival and fitness between individuals within single populations.
Additional affiliations
August 2019 - present
American Museum of Natural History
Position
  • PostDoc Position
September 2013 - June 2019
University of California, Santa Cruz
Position
  • PhD Student
September 2012 - February 2013
University of California, San Diego
Position
  • Staff Research Associate
Education
September 2013 - June 2019
University of California, Santa Cruz
Field of study
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
September 2008 - June 2012
University of California, San Diego
Field of study
  • Environmental Science

Publications

Publications (34)
Article
Full-text available
Adaptive radiation is hypothesized to be a primary mechanism that drives the remarkable species diversity and morphological disparity across the Tree of Life. Tests for adaptive radiation in extant taxa are traditionally estimated from calibrated molecular phylogenies with little input from extinct taxa. With 85 putative species in 33 genera and ov...
Article
An elongate body with reduced or absent limbs has evolved independently in many ectothermic vertebrate lineages. While much effort has been spent examining the morphological pathways to elongation in these clades, quantitative investigations into the evolution of elongation in endothermic clades are lacking. We quantified body shape in 61 musteloid...
Article
The diversity of body shapes is one of the most prominent features of phenotypic variation in vertebrates. Biologists, however, still lack a full understanding of the underlying morphological components that contribute to its diversity, particularly in endothermic vertebrates such as mammals. In this study, I tested hypotheses pertaining to the evo...
Article
Morphological diversity is often attributed as adaptations to distinct ecologies. Although biologists have long hypothesized that distinct ecologies drive the evolution of body shape, these relationships are rarely tested across macroevolutionary scales in mammals. Here, I tested hypotheses that locomotor, hunting, and dietary ecologies influenced...
Article
The relationship between skull morphology and diet is a prime example of adaptive evolution. In mammals, the skull consists of the cranium and the mandible. While the mandible is expected to evolve more directly in response to dietary changes, dietary regimes may have less influence on the cranium because additional sensory and brain‐protection fun...
Article
Full-text available
The petrosal lobules (in whole or part homologous with the paraflocculi) of the cerebellum regulate functions associated with vision including smooth pursuit and velocity control of eye movements, suggesting a possible relationship between the petrosal lobules and behavioral adaptation. Previous studies have produced diverging conclusions regarding...
Article
Full-text available
This study presents the first evidence of Eurasian otter presence in Nepal since 1991. Camera trap images from the Barekot River in Jajarkot District, photographic images from Tubang River in East Rukum District evidence and the skull of a dead otter are presented as documentation. Twelve craniomandibular traits measurements were carried out on a s...
Article
Although convergence is often recognized as a ubiquitous feature across the Tree of Life, whether the underlying traits also exhibit similar evolutionary pathways towards convergent forms puzzles biologists. In carnivoran mammals, “elongate,” “slender,” and “long” are often used to describe and even to categorize mustelids (martens, polecats, and w...
Article
Full-text available
Physical principles and laws determine the set of possible organismal phenotypes. Constraints arising from development, the environment, and evolutionary history then yield workable, integrated phenotypes. We propose a theoretical and practical framework that considers the role of changing environments. This 'ecomechanical approach' integrates func...
Article
The carnivoran cranium undergoes tremendous growth in size and development of shape to process prey as adults and, importantly, these ontogenetic processes can also differ between the sexes. How these ontogenetic changes in morphology actually relate to the underlying jaw musculature and overall bite performance has rarely been investigated. In thi...
Article
Full-text available
Although sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is widespread across the animal tree of life, the underlying evolutionary processes that influence this phenomenon remains elusive and difficult to tease apart. In this study, I examined how social system (as a proxy for sexual selection) and diet (as a proxy for natural selection) influenced the evolution of S...
Article
Bite force is a measure of feeding performance used to elucidate links between animal morphology, ecology, and fitness. Obtaining live individuals for in vivo bite-force measurements or freshly deceased specimens for bite force modeling is challenging for many species. Thomason's dry skull method for mammals relies solely on osteological specimens...
Article
Environmental changes can lead to evolutionary shifts in phenotypic traits, which in turn facilitate the exploitation of novel adaptive landscapes and lineage diversification. The global cooling, increased aridity and expansion of open grasslands during the past 50 Myr are prime examples of new adaptive landscapes that spurred lineage and ecomorpho...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the importance of predation in many ecosystems, gaps remain in our understanding of nocturnal marine predators. Although the kelp forests of Southern California are some of the most well-studied ecosystems, California morays, Gymnothorax mordax, are predominately nocturnal predators that have remained largely unstudied and their predatory e...
Article
Full-text available
Size and shape are often considered important variables that lead to variation in performance. In studies of feeding, size‐corrected metrics of the skull are often used as proxies of biting performance; however, few studies have examined the relationship between cranial shape in it's entirety and estimated bite force across species and how dietary...
Article
Full-text available
Mustela sibirica Pallas, 1773, commonly known as the Siberian weasel, is a widely distributed Palearctic musteline with natural populations ranging from west of the Ural Mountains of Siberia to the Far East and south to Taiwan and the Himalayas. A key characteristic that distinguishes M. sibirica from most sympatric musteline species is the occurre...
Article
Full-text available
In the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, dietary partitioning is believed to allow Peromyscus californicus (California mouse) and Peromyscus truei (pinyon mouse) to occur sympatrically; P. californicus feeds primarily on arthropods, whereas P. truei feeds primarily on acorns. To better understand how these species partition resources, we examine...
Article
Full-text available
Weaning represents a major ontogenetic dietary shift in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), as juveniles must transition from depending on mother’s milk to independently processing hard-shelled invertebrates. When the skulls of juveniles have reached sufficient maturity to transition to a durophagous diet remains to be investigated. Here,...
Article
Full-text available
Lutra lutra (Linnaeus, 1758), commonly known as the Eurasian otter, is the most widely distributed of the lutrinids (otters). L. lutra is primarily a piscivorous predator but also preys on amphibians, crustaceans, small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Extant populations of this semiaquatic mustelid occur in a wide variety of aquatic freshwater and ma...
Article
Full-text available
The niche divergence hypothesis suggests that if a species exhibits intersexual differences in diet, selection should favor divergence in the feeding apparatus between the sexes. Recent work revealed that male and female southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) utilize different dietary resources in response to increased population density; fema...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual dimorphism attributed to niche divergence is often linked to differentiation between the sexes in both dietary resources and characters related to feeding and resource procurement. Although recent studies have indicated that southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) exhibit differences in dietary preferences as well as sexual dimorphism in...
Article
Full-text available
Divergent morphologies among related species are often correlated with distinct behaviors and habitat uses. Considerable morphological and behavioral differences are found between two major clades within the polychaete family Opheliidae. For instance, Thoracophelia mucronata burrows by peristalsis, whereas Armandia brevis exhibits undulatory burrow...
Article
Full-text available
Recent work has shown that muddy sediments are elastic solids through which animals extend burrows by fracture, whereas non-cohesive granular sands fluidize around some burrowers. These different mechanical responses are reflected in the morphologies and behaviours of their respective inhabitants. However, Armandia brevis, a mud-burrowing opheliid...
Article
Full-text available
Thoracophelia (Annelida, Opheliidae) are burrowing deposit feeders generally found in the mid- to upper intertidal areas of sandy beaches. Thoracophelia mucronata (Treadwell, 1914) is found along the west coast of North America, including at Dillon Beach, CA. Two additional species, Thoracophelia dillonensis (Hartman, 1938) and T. williamsi (Hartma...

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Projects (7)
Project
Mammals vary in a magnitude of body shapes from robust tank-like elephants to elongate weasels. What drive these patterns?