Biologists have long been fascinated by the exceptionally high diversity displayed by some evolutionary groups. Adaptive radiation in such clades is not only spectacular, but is also an extremely complex process influenced by a variety of ecological, genetic, and developmental factors and strongly dependent on historical contingencies. Using modeling approaches, we identify 10 general patterns concerning the temporal, spatial, and genetic/morphological properties of adaptive radiation. Some of these are strongly supported by empirical work, whereas for others, empirical support is more tentative. In almost all cases, more data are needed. Future progress in our understanding of adaptive radiation will be most successful if theoretical and empirical approaches are integrated, as has happened in other areas of evolutionary biology.
Charles Darwin's travels on HMS Beagle taught him that islands are an important source of evidence for evolution. Because many islands are young and have relatively few species, evolutionary adaptation and species proliferation are obvious and easy to study. In addition, the geographical isolation of many islands has allowed evolution to take its own course, free of influence from other areas, resulting in unusual faunas and floras, often unlike those found anywhere else. For these reasons, island research provides valuable insights into speciation and adaptive radiation, and into the relative importance of contingency and determinism in evolutionary diversification.
Ecologists are increasingly adopting an evolutionary perspective, and in recent years, the idea that closely related species are ecologically similar has become widespread. In this regard, phylogenetic signal must be distinguished from phylogenetic niche conservatism. Phylogenetic niche conservatism results when closely related species are more ecologically similar that would be expected based on their phylogenetic relationships; its occurrence suggests that some process is constraining divergence among closely related species. In contrast, phylogenetic signal refers to the situation in which ecological similarity between species is related to phylogenetic relatedness; this is the expected outcome of Brownian motion divergence and thus is necessary, but not sufficient, evidence for the existence of phylogenetic niche conservatism. Although many workers consider phylogenetic niche conservatism to be common, a review of case studies indicates that ecological and phylogenetic similarities often are not related. Consequently, ecologists should not assume that phylogenetic niche conservatism exists, but rather should empirically examine the extent to which it occurs.
Vertebrate developmental biologists typically rely on a limited number of model organisms to understand the evolutionary bases of morphological change. Unfortunately, a typical model system for squamates (lizards and snakes) has not yet been developed leaving many fundamental questions about morphological evolution unaddressed. New model systems would ideally include clades, rather than single species, that are amenable to both laboratory studies of development and field-based analyses of ecology and evolution. Combining an understanding of development with an understanding of ecology and evolution within and between closely related species has the potential to create a seamless understanding of how genetic variation underlies ecologically and evolutionarily relevant variation within populations and between species. Here we briefly introduce a new model system for the integration of development, evolution, and ecology, the lizard genus Anolis, a diverse group of lizards whose ecology and evolution is well understood, and whose genome has recently been sequenced. We present a developmental staging series for Anolis lizards that can act as a baseline for later comparative and experimental studies within this genus.
Many of the classic examples of adaptive radiation, including Caribbean Anolis lizards, are found on islands. However, Anolis also exhibits substantial species richness and ecomorphological disparity on mainland Central and South America. We compared patterns and rates of morphological evolution to investigate whether, in fact, island Anolis are exceptionally diverse relative to their mainland counterparts. Quite the contrary, we found that rates and extent of diversification were comparable--Anolis adaptive radiation is not an island phenomenon. However, mainland and Caribbean anoles occupy different parts of morphological space; in independent colonizations of both island and mainland habitats, island anoles have evolved shorter limbs and better-developed toe pads. These patterns suggest that the two areas are on different evolutionary trajectories. The ecological causes of these differences are unknown, but may relate to differences in predation or competition among mainland and island communities.
Molecular genetic analyses show that introduced populations undergoing biological invasions often bring together individuals from genetically disparate native-range source populations, which can elevate genotypic variation if these individuals interbreed. Differential admixture among multiple native-range sources explains mitochondrial haplotypic diversity within and differentiation among invasive populations of the lizard Anolis sagrei. Our examination of microsatellite variation supports the hypothesis that lizards from disparate native-range sources, identified using mtDNA haplotypes, form genetically admixed introduced populations. Furthermore, within-population genotypic diversity increases with the number of sources and among-population genotypic differentiation reflects disparity in their native-range sources. If adaptive genetic variation is similarly restructured, then the ability of invasive species to adapt to new conditions may be enhanced.
We examine the effects of ecological opportunity and geographic area on rates of species accumulation and morphological evolution following archipelago colonization in day geckos (genus Phelsuma) in the Indian Ocean. Using a newly generated molecular phylogeny for the genus, we present evidence that these geckos likely originated on Madagascar, whereas colonization of three archipelagos in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles, Mascarene, and Comoros Islands has produced three independent monophyletic radiations. We find that rates of species accumulation are not elevated following colonization but are roughly equivalent on all three isolated archipelagos and on the larger island of Madagascar. However, rates of species accumulation have slowed through time on Madagascar. Rates of morphological evolution are higher in both the Mascarene and Seychelles archipelagos compared to rates on Madagascar. This negative relationship between rate of morphological evolution and island area suggests that ecological opportunity is an important factor in diversification of day gecko species.
We analysed the diversification of squamate reptiles (7488 species) based on a new molecular phylogeny, and compared the results to similar estimates for passerine birds (5712 species). The number of species in each of 36 squamate lineages showed no evidence of phylogenetic conservatism. Compared with a random speciation-extinction process with parameters estimated from the size distribution of clades, the alethinophidian snakes (2600 species) were larger than expected and 13 clades, each having fewer than 20 species, were smaller than expected, indicating rate heterogeneity. From a lineage-through-time plot, we estimated that a provisional rate of lineage extinction (0.66 per Myr) was 94% of the rate of lineage splitting (0.70 per Myr). Diversification in squamate lineages was independent of their stem age, but strongly related to the area of the region within which they occur. Tropical vs. temperate latitude exerted a marginally significant influence on species richness. In comparison with passerine birds, squamates share several clade features, including: (1) independence of species richness and age; (2) lack of phylogenetic signal with respect to clade size; (3) general absence of exceptionally large clades; (4) over-representation of small clades; (5) influence of region size on clade size; and (6) similar rates of speciation and extinction. The evidence for both groups suggests that clade size has achieved long-term equilibrium, suggesting negative feedback of species richness on the rate of diversification.
Sexual dimorphism is widespread and substantial throughout the animal world. It is surprising, then, that such a pervasive source of biological diversity has not been integrated into studies of adaptive radiation, despite extensive and growing attention to both phenomena. Rather, most studies of adaptive radiation either group individuals without regard to sex or focus solely on one sex. Here we show that sexual differences contribute substantially to the ecomorphological diversity produced by the adaptive radiations of West Indian Anolis lizards: within anole species, males and females occupy mostly non-overlapping parts of morphological space; the overall extent of sexual variation is large relative to interspecific variation; and the degree of variation depends on ecological type. Thus, when sexual dimorphism in ecologically relevant traits is substantial, ignoring its contribution may significantly underestimate the adaptive component of evolutionary radiation. Conversely, if sexual dimorphism and interspecific divergence are alternative means of ecological diversification, then the degree of sexual dimorphism may be negatively related to the extent of adaptive radiation.
Invasive species are classically thought to suffer from reduced within-population genetic variation compared to their native-range sources due to founder effects and population bottlenecks during introduction. Reduction in genetic variation in introduced species may limit population growth, increase the risk of extinction, and constrain adaptation, hindering the successful establishment and spread of an alien species. Results of recent empirical studies, however, show higher than expected genetic variation, rapid evolution, and multiple native-range sources in introduced populations, which challenge the classical scenario of invasive-species genetics. With mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence data, we examined the molecular genetics of 10 replicate introductions of 8 species of Anolis lizards. Eighty percent of introductions to Florida and the Dominican Republic were from multiple native-range source populations. MtDNA haplotypes restricted to different geographically distinct populations in the native range of a species commonly occurred as intrapopulation polymorphisms in introduced populations. Two-thirds of introduced populations had two or more sources, and admixture elevated genetic variation in half of the introduced populations above levels typical of native-range populations. The mean pairwise sequence divergence among haplotypes sampled within introduced populations was nearly twice that within native-range populations (2.6% vs. 1.4%). The dynamics of introductions from multiple sources and admixture explained the observed genetic contrasts between native and introduced Anolis populations better than the classical scenario for most introduced populations. Elevated genetic variation through admixture occurred regardless of the mode or circumstances of an introduction. Little insight into the number of sources or amount of genetic variation in introduced populations was gained by knowing the number of physical introductions, the size of a species' non-native range, or whether it was a deliberate or accidental introduction. We hypothesize that elevated genetic variation through admixture of multiple sources is more common in biological invasions than previously thought. We propose that introductions follow a sequential, two-step process involving a reduction in genetic variation due to founder effects and population bottlenecks followed by an increase in genetic variation if admixture of individuals from multiple native-range sources occurs.
Phenotypic similarity of species occupying similar habitats has long been taken as strong evidence of adaptation, but this approach implicitly assumes that similarity is evolutionarily derived. However, even derived similarities may not represent convergent adaptation if the similarities did not evolve as a result of the same selection pressures; an alternative possibility is that the similar features evolved for different reasons, but subsequently allowed the species to occupy the same habitat, in which case the convergent evolution of the same feature by species occupying similar habitats would be the result of exaptation. Many lizard lineages have evolved to occupy vertical rock surfaces, a habitat that places strong functional and ecological demands on lizards. We examined four clades in which species that use vertical rock surfaces exhibit long hindlimbs and flattened bodies. Morphological change on the phylogenetic branches leading to the rock-dwelling species in the four clades differed from change on other branches of the phylogeny; evolutionary transitions to rock-dwelling generally were associated with increases in limb length and decreases in head depth. Examination of particular characters revealed several different patterns of evolutionary change. Rock-dwelling lizards exhibited similarities in head depth as a result of both adaptation and exaptation. Moreover, even though rock-dwelling species generally had longer limbs than their close relatives, clade-level differences in limb length led to an overall lack of difference between rock- and non-rock-dwelling lizards. These results indicate that evolutionary change in the same direction in independent lineages does not necessarily produce convergence, and that the existence of similar advantageous structures among species independently occupying the same environment may not indicate adaptation.
The biological invasion of the lizard Anolis sagrei provides an opportunity to study evolutionary mechanisms that produce morphological differentiation among non-native populations. Because the A. sagrei invasion represents multiple native-range source populations, differential admixture as well as random genetic drift and natural selection, could shape morphological evolution during the invasion. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses reveal seven distinct native-range source populations for 10 introduced A. sagrei populations from Florida, Louisiana and Texas (USA), and Grand Cayman, with 2-5 native-range sources contributing to each non-native population. These introduced populations differ significantly in frequencies of haplotypes from different native-range sources and in body size, toepad-lamella number, and body shape. Variation among introduced populations for both lamella number and body shape is explained by differential admixture of various source populations; mean morphological values of introduced populations are correlated with the relative genetic contributions from different native-range source populations. The number of source populations contributing to an introduced population correlates with body size, which appears independent of the relative contributions of particular source populations. Thus, differential admixture of various native-range source populations explains morphological differences among introduced A. sagrei populations. Morphological differentiation among populations is compatible with the hypothesis of selective neutrality, although we are unable to test the hypothesis of interdemic selection among introductions from different native-range source populations.
BACKGROUND: The dewlaps of Anolis lizards provide a classic example of a complex signaling system whose function and evolution is poorly understood. Dewlaps are flaps of skin beneath the chin that are extended and combined with head and body movements for visual signals and displays. They exhibit extensive morphological variation and are one of two cladistic features uniting anoles, yet little is known regarding their function and evolution. We quantified the diversity of anole dewlaps, investigated whether dewlap morphology was informative regarding phylogenetic relationships, and tested two separate hypotheses: (A) similar Anolis habitat specialists possess similar dewlap configurations (Ecomorph Convergence hypothesis), and (B) sympatric species differ in their dewlap morphologies to a greater extent than expected by chance (Species Recognition hypothesis). METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We found that dewlap configurations (sizes, patterns and colors) exhibit substantial diversity, but that most are easily categorized into six patterns that incorporate one to three of 13 recognizable colors. Dewlap morphology is not phylogenetically informative and, like other features of anoles, exhibits convergence in configurations. We found no support for the Ecomorph Convergence hypothesis; species using the same structural habitat were no more similar in dewlap configuration than expected by chance. With one exception, all sympatric species in four communities differ in dewlap configuration. However, this provides only weak support for the Species Recognition hypothesis because, due to the great diversity in dewlap configurations observed across each island, few cases of sympatric species with identical dewlaps would be expected to co-occur by chance alone. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Despite previous thought, most dewlaps exhibit easily characterizable patterns and colorations. Nevertheless, dewlap variation is extensive and explanations for the origin and evolution of this diversity are lacking. Our data do not support two hypothesized explanations for this diversity, but others such as sexual selection remain to be tested.