Adaptive Radiation

Adaptive radiation is a process in the evolutionary biology, by which the organisms are rapidly diversified, from their ancestral species to the new life forms particularly due to change in the environment, which causes the availability of the new resources, and creates the new environmental niches. The process of adaptive radiation starts with the single recent ancestor and results in the phenotypic adaptation, and speciation, of the different physiological, and morphological traits.

Conditions for the Adaptive Radiation

  • Adaptive radiation can occur, by the opening of a new habitat, such as a new ground that can be created by the volcano in the middle of the ocean.
  • Relatively, the resultant habitat is isolated. Due to the eruption of the volcano, in the mainland, the adjacent forests are destroyed. In the isolated newly formed habitat, the colonizing species will be random and will have the uncommon arrivals.
  • In the new habitat, the niche space is widely available.

Characteristics of Adaptive Radiation

  • There are few features and characteristics, that can be used for the identification of adaptive radiation.
  • The common ancestry is an essential component of species for adaptive radiation. This is not the same as that of monophyly, which includes all the descendants of the common ancestors.
  • The correlation between the environment and phenotype is a must. There is a significant association between the morphological and physiological traits and the environment, and these traits are used to exploit that environment.
  • The utility of the trait is significantly important. The fitness advantage, or the performance of the trait values, is in correspondence with the environment.
  • Rapid speciation serves as the main feature of adaptive radiation. In the emergence of the new species, the presence of the one or more bursts causes the phenotypic and the ecological divergence.

Factors Affecting Adaptive Radiation

Generally, the adaptive radiation refers to the event in which the lineage is rapidly diversified. With the formation of a new lineage, different lineages are evolved. There are various factors which trigger the adaptive radiation, but each of the factors is a response to an opportunity. These factors involve the evolution of the key adaptation, the release from the vacated niches or the competition, and the specialization. By the specialization, a niche is subdivided into the various sub-niches.

The adaptive evolution, is the evolution of the animal, or the plant group, to the wide variety of the adapted types that are for the specialized modes of life. It is best exemplified by the closely related groups, that are evolved in a relatively short time.


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