The goal of an ecomorphological study is to understand the interactions between the morphology of organisms and their ecology. Both the morphology and the ecology presented by an organism are directly or indirectly under the influence of the environmental conditions that the organism experiences and its heritable composition. The development and interpretation of the central element of ecomorphological studies, the comparison between patterns of variation of morphological and ecological characters, depends heavily on the mechanistic framework provided by functional morphological and biomechanical studies. The cause-and-effect hypotheses derived from this comparison can be tested with performance trials. Ecomorphology forms an integral part of comparative biology, along with ecophysiology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary ecology. Current issues in ecomorphological research that are addressed in this volume include application of a more functional approach to the choice of characters, integration of morphological, behavioral, and physiological information to address adaptation, and the expansion of spatial and temporal (ontogenetic and evolutionary) scales of ecomorphological questions. Future directions for ecomorphology include broadening the knowledge base, further integration of information from other disciplines, examination of the role of environmental and genetic factors in producing and maintaining ecological and morphological diversity, and application of ecomorphological insights to questions of community structure.
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