Quantifying bite force in coexisting tayassuids and feral suids: a comparison between morphometric functional proxies and in vivo measurements.

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From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 10,079 words
Lexile Measure: 1450L

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Abstract :

Background Measuring mammals' bite force in laboratory conditions is not a simple task, let alone on wild medium-sized mammals in the field. Thus, morphometric-proxies are usually used to infer morphofunctional properties of musculoskeletal features. For instance, the study of bite force-indexes suggests that different capacities to crack food items reduce the competition between coexistent collared and white-lipped peccaries (Pecari tajacu and Tayassu pecari). The presence of exotic feral hogs (Sus scrofa) in peccaries' endemic areas gives rise to new ecological interactions between them. An example is the Brazilian Pantanal wetland, where ecomorphological mechanisms may play a role in their ecological relations. Taking this scenario as a case of study, we aimed to verify if the morphometric-proxies are de facto reliable tools, by comparing bite forces-indexes with the in vivo bite forces of these species. Methods We captured 21 collared and white-lipped peccaries and feral hogs in the Brazilian Pantanal to assess their bite force at first molar. The Bite Force Measuring Tube (BiTu) is a robust and simple mechanical device designed to be used in field conditions. Only 11 individuals successfully bit the BiTu before being released. Their body measurements were compared and correlated with their bite force. The in vivo bite forces were compared with bite force-indexes of two papers based on independent morphometric methods and datasets: Sicuro & Oliveira (2002) used classic morphometrics to infer the bite forces of these three species in the Brazilian Pantanal, and Hendges etal. (2019) used geometric morphometrics to compare bite forces-indexes and feeding habits of the extant peccary species. The results of all species were standardized (Z-curves) according to each method. Doing so, we obtained comparable dimensionless comparable values but maintaining the differences between them. Results The morphometric-proxies-based studies presented similar results: collared peccaries present weaker bites than white-lipped peccaries and feral hogs, while these two species presented no significant differences in their bite force-indexes. The in vivo bite force results suggest the same relations predicted by the morphometric models, including the high variation among the feral hogs. We found a significant correlation between the individuals' weight (kg) and their actual bite force (N) but no significant correlations with the head length. Conclusions The BiTu proved to be a functional and low-cost tool to measure bite force in field conditions. The in vivo results presented a good correspondence with the predictions based on morphometric-proxies by Sicuro & Oliveira (2002) and Hendges etal. (2019). The results denote that these studies succeed in capturing the biomechanical signal of the three species' skull-jaw systems. This empirical validation confirms that these morphometric-proxies analyses are reliable methods to ecomorphological and evolutionary inferences.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A671757015