Habitat use may lead to variation in diversity among evolutionary lineages because habitats differ in the variety of ways they allow for species to make a living. Here, we show that structural habitats contribute to differential diversification of limb and body form in dragon lizards (Agamidae). Based on phylogenetic analysis and ancestral state reconstructions for 90 species, we find that multiple lineages have independently adopted each of four habitat use types: rock-dwelling, terrestriality, semi-arboreality and arboreality. Given these reconstructions, we fit models of evolution to species' morphological trait values and find that rock-dwelling and arboreality limit diversification relative to terrestriality and semi-arboreality. Models preferred by Akaike information criterion infer slower rates of size and shape evolution in lineages inferred to occupy rocks and trees, and model-averaged rate estimates are slowest for these habitat types. These results suggest that ground-dwelling facilitates ecomorphological differentiation and that use of trees or rocks impedes diversification.
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. Contingencies of a variety of types may usually preclude close similarity in the outcome of evolutionary diversification in other situations. Whether radiations usually unfold in the same general sequence is unclear because of the unreliability of methods requiring phylogenetic reconstruction of ancestral events. The synthesis of ecological, phylogenetic, experimental, and genomic advances promises to make the coming years a golden age for the study of adaptive radiation; natural history data, however, will always be crucial to understanding the forces shaping adaptation and evolutionary diversification.
The pattern of genetic variances and covariances among characters, summarized in the additive genetic variance-covariance matrix, G, determines how a population will respond to linear natural selection. However, G itself also evolves in response to selection. In particular, we expect that, over time, G will evolve correspondence with the pattern of multivariate nonlinear natural selection. In this study, we substitute the phenotypic variance-covariance matrix (P) for G to determine if the pattern of multivariate nonlinear selection in a natural population of Anolis cristatellus, an arboreal lizard from Puerto Rico, has influenced the evolution of genetic variances and covariances in this species. Although results varied among our estimates of P and fitness, and among our analytic techniques, we find significant evidence for congruence between nonlinear selection and P, suggesting that natural selection may have influenced the evolution of genetic constraint in this species.
L. J. Harmon, J. B. Losos, T. Jonathan Davies, R. G. Gillespie, J. L. Gittleman, W. Bryan Jennings, K. H. Kozak, M. A. McPeek, F. Moreno-Roark, T. J. Near, A. Purvis, R. E. Ricklefs, D. Schluter, J. A. Schulte Ii, O. Seehausen, B. L. Sidlauskas, O. Torres-Carvajal, J. T. Weir, and A. O. Mooers. 2010. “Early bursts of body size and shape evolution are rare in comparative data.” Evolution, 64, Pp. 2385-96.Abstract
George Gaylord Simpson famously postulated that much of life's diversity originated as adaptive radiations-more or less simultaneous divergences of numerous lines from a single ancestral adaptive type. However, identifying adaptive radiations has proven difficult due to a lack of broad-scale comparative datasets. Here, we use phylogenetic comparative data on body size and shape in a diversity of animal clades to test a key model of adaptive radiation, in which initially rapid morphological evolution is followed by relative stasis. We compared the fit of this model to both single selective peak and random walk models. We found little support for the early-burst model of adaptive radiation, whereas both other models, particularly that of selective peaks, were commonly supported. In addition, we found that the net rate of morphological evolution varied inversely with clade age. The youngest clades appear to evolve most rapidly because long-term change typically does not attain the amount of divergence predicted from rates measured over short time scales. Across our entire analysis, the dominant pattern was one of constraints shaping evolution continually through time rather than rapid evolution followed by stasis. We suggest that the classical model of adaptive radiation, where morphological evolution is initially rapid and slows through time, may be rare in comparative data.
Most studies of adaptive radiations focus on morphological aspects of differentiation, yet behavior is also an important component of evolutionary diversification, often mediating the relationship between animal ecology and morphology. In species within radiations that are convergent in ecology and morphology, we then also expect convergence in behavior. Here, we examined 13 Anolis lizard species to determine whether territorial strategies have evolved convergently with morphology and habitat use. We evaluated two aspects of territoriality: behavioral defense of space via territorial displays, and territory overlap within and between sexes. Controlling for the phylogenetic relationships of the taxa in our study, we found that species similar in perch height and diameter convergently evolved patterns of territory overlap, whereas species similar in habitat visibility (the proportion of space that can be seen from a perch) convergently evolved display behavior. We also found that species with greater display time have more extensive male-male territory overlap. This study provides strong evidence for the role of habitat in the evolution of territoriality and suggests that the social structure of a species ultimately evolves in concert with habitat use and morphology.
Invasive species have tremendous detrimental ecological and economic impacts. Climate change may exacerbate species invasions across communities if non-native species are better able to respond to climate changes than native species. Recent evidence indicates that species that respond to climate change by adjusting their phenology (i.e., the timing of seasonal activities, such as flowering) have historically increased in abundance. The extent to which non-native species success is similarly linked to a favorable climate change response, however, remains untested. We analyzed a dataset initiated by the conservationist Henry David Thoreau that documents the long-term phenological response of native and non-native plant species over the last 150 years from Concord, Massachusetts (USA). Our results demonstrate that non-native species, and invasive species in particular, have been far better able to respond to recent climate change by adjusting their flowering time. This demonstrates that climate change has likely played, and may continue to play, an important role in facilitating non-native species naturalization and invasion at the community level.
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.