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Evolution. 2010 Sep;64(9):2731-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01026.x.

Ecological opportunity and the rate of morphological evolution in the diversification of Greater Antillean anoles.

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Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


The pace of phenotypic diversification during adaptive radiation should decrease as ecological opportunity declines. We test this prediction using phylogenetic comparative analyses of a wide range of morphological traits in Greater Antillean Anolis lizards. We find that the rate of diversification along two important axes of Anolis radiation-body size and limb dimensions-decreased as opportunity declined, with opportunity quantified either as time elapsed in the radiation or as the diversity of competing anole lineages inferred to have been present on an island at different times in the past. Most previous studies of the ecological opportunity hypothesis have focused on the rate of species diversification; our results provide a complementary perspective, indicating that the rate of phenotypic diversification declines with decreasing opportunity in an adaptive radiation.

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