Adaptive Radiation, Ecological Opportunity, and Evolutionary Determinism

Published on Jun 1, 2010in The American Naturalist3.85
· DOI :10.1086/652433
Jonathan B. Losos77
Estimated H-index: 77
(Harvard University)
Abstract: Adaptive radiation refers to diversification from an ancestral species that produces descendants adapted to use a great variety of distinct ecological niches. In this review, I examine two aspects of adaptive radiation: first, that it results from ecological opportunity and, second, that it is deterministic in terms of its outcome and evolutionary trajectory. Ecological opportunity is usually a prerequisite for adaptive radiation, although in some cases, radiation can occur in the absence of preexisting opportunity. Nonetheless, many clades fail to radiate although seemingly in the presence of ecological opportunity; until methods are developed to identify and quantify ecological opportunity, the concept will have little predictive utility in understanding a priori when a clade might be expected to radiate. Although predicted by theory, replicated adaptive radiations occur only rarely, usually in closely related and poorly dispersing taxa found in the same region on islands or in lakes. Continge...
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