Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Biology & Biomedical Sciences (Evolution, Ecology & Population Biology)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Do genetic and developmental constraints play a significant role in shaping the morphological diversity of living organisms? This decades-old question remains as relevant today as it was when it was first formulated, and the debate has mainly persisted due to the difficulties in connecting population-level processes to phenomena occurring at much broader temporal and spatial scales.

Quantitative genetics has long been considered a possible theoretical framework in which to generate testable hypotheses capable of disentangling the relative contribution of evolutionary processes and genetic/developmental constraints in shaping morphological evolution. Therefore, my dissertation examines patterns of skull variation and evolution across multiple scales, and attempts to connect microevolutionary processes to macroevolutionary patterns through quantitative genetic theory. The results presented here emphasize that the variational properties of organisms have a significant impact over macroevolutionary diversification patterns, and that these properties are, therefore, an important but underappreciated contribution of quantitative genetic theory to studies of morphological evolution.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

James M. Cheverud

Committee Members

Justin C. Fay, Allan Larson, Kenneth M. Olsen, Dabeeru C. Rao


Permanent URL:

Available for download on Saturday, August 15, 2116