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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jun 6;97(12):6585-90.

Convergent adaptive radiations in Madagascan and Asian ranid frogs reveal covariation between larval and adult traits.

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  • 1Unit of Evolutionary Genetics, Free University of Brussels (ULB), cp 300, Institute of Molecular Biology and Medicine, rue Jeener and Brachet 12, B-6041 Gosselies, Belgium.


Recent studies have reported that independent adaptive radiations can lead to identical ecomorphs. Our phylogenetic analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences here indicate that a major radiation of ranid frogs on Madagascar produced morphological, physiological, and developmental characters that are remarkably similar to those that independently evolved on the Indian subcontinent. We demonstrate further that, in several cases, adult and larval stages each evolved sets of characters which are not only convergent between independent lineages, but also allowed both developmental stages to invade the same adaptive zone. It is likely that such covariations are produced by similar selective pressures on independent larval and adult characters rather than by genetic or functional linkage. We briefly discuss why larval/adult covariations might constitute an important evolutionary phenomenon in species for which more than one developmental stage potentially has access to multiple environmental conditions.

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