Adaptive radiation

Definition

Adaptive radiation is the process by which a single lineage undergoes multiple speciation events to fill divergent ecological niches. This results in a cluster of phenotypically distinct, related species and often occurs after a physical disturbance or extinction event opens up new niches for exploitation.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    In animals with complex life cycles, selection on one life phase may constrain adaptation in another phase. Here the authors find that, during the adaptive radiation of mantellid frogs, the evolution of tadpole and adult morphologies has been uncoupled through phase-specific gene expression.

    • Katharina C. Wollenberg Valero
    • , Joan Garcia-Porta
    • , Ariel Rodríguez
    • , Mónica Arias
    • , Abhijeet Shah
    • , Roger Daniel Randrianiaina
    • , Jason L. Brown
    • , Frank Glaw
    • , Felix Amat
    • , Sven Künzel
    • , Dirk Metzler
    • , Raphael D. Isokpehi
    •  & Miguel Vences
  • Research |

    A study of more than 2,000 bird species shows that diversity in bill shape expands towards extreme morphologies early in avian evolution in a series of major jumps, before switching to a second phase in which bills repeatedly evolve similar shapes by subdividing increasingly tight regions of already occupied niche space.

    • Christopher R. Cooney
    • , Jen A. Bright
    • , Elliot J. R. Capp
    • , Angela M. Chira
    • , Emma C. Hughes
    • , Christopher J. A. Moody
    • , Lara O. Nouri
    • , Zoë K. Varley
    •  & Gavin H. Thomas
    Nature 542, 344–347
  • Research | | open

    Cichlids underwent a rapid diversification in the Lake Victoria region, expanding to more than 700 species within 150,000 years. Here, Meier and colleagues show that an ancient hybridization between two divergent cichlid lineages generated high genetic diversity that facilitated the rapid radiation.

    • Joana I. Meier
    • , David A. Marques
    • , Salome Mwaiko
    • , Catherine E. Wagner
    • , Laurent Excoffier
    •  & Ole Seehausen
  • Research | | open

    Only one of the three Taenia species causing taeniasis in humans was previously sequenced. Here the authors provide draft genomes of Taenia saginata and Taenia asiatica, analyse genome evolution of all three species, and identify potential targets for developing diagnostic markers or intervention tools.

    • Shuai Wang
    • , Sen Wang
    • , Yingfeng Luo
    • , Lihua Xiao
    • , Xuenong Luo
    • , Shenghan Gao
    • , Yongxi Dou
    • , Huangkai Zhang
    • , Aijiang Guo
    • , Qingshu Meng
    • , Junling Hou
    • , Bing Zhang
    • , Shaohua Zhang
    • , Meng Yang
    • , Xuelian Meng
    • , Hailiang Mei
    • , Hui Li
    • , Zilong He
    • , Xueliang Zhu
    • , Xinyu Tan
    • , Xing-quan Zhu
    • , Jun Yu
    • , Jianping Cai
    • , Guan Zhu
    • , Songnian Hu
    •  & Xuepeng Cai
  • Research | | open

    Adaptive radiations are well-known for animals and plants, but not for microbes. Here, Hehemann et al. show that there has been a recent adaptive radiation of bacteria in the Vibrionaceae to use different forms of alginate and that this radiation has been mediated by horizontal gene transfer.

    • Jan-Hendrik Hehemann
    • , Philip Arevalo
    • , Manoshi S. Datta
    • , Xiaoqian Yu
    • , Christopher H. Corzett
    • , Andreas Henschel
    • , Sarah P. Preheim
    • , Sonia Timberlake
    • , Eric J. Alm
    •  & Martin F. Polz

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    According to an innovative exercise in 'morphospace analysis', modern fish owe their stunning diversity in part to an ecological cleaning of the slate by the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous.

    • Michael Alfaro
    •  & Francesco Santini
    Nature 464, 840–842
  • News and Views |

    An electrifying evolutionary radiation has evidently occurred among elephant fish in Africa's Ivindo basin. An implication is that open niches for communication can result in species diversification.

    • Manuel Leal
    •  & Jonathan B. Losos
    Nature 467, 159–160