adaptive radiation

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adaptive radiation,

in biology, the evolution of an ancestral species, which was adapted to a particular way of life, into many diverse species, each adapted to a different habitat. Adaptive radiation has occurred in the evolution of many groups of organisms, and is clearly illustrated by Hawaiian honey-creepers. Another example is shown in Darwin's finchesDarwin's finches
or Galapagos finches
, species of small perching birds, constituting the subfamily Geospizinae of the tanager family. Not related to the true finches, this group of at least fifteen species is confined to the Galápagos Islands, except for a
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, at least 15 species of small land birds of the Galápagos Islands and Cocos Island. All of Darwin's finches derive from a single species of ground-dwelling, seed-eating finch that probably emigrated from the South American mainland. Because the environmental niches, or habitats, were unoccupied on the isolated islands, the ancestral stock was able to differentiate into diverse species; several species are ground-dwelling seedeaters, others live on cactus plants or trees and are seedeaters or insecteaters. See also competitioncompetition,
in biology, relationship between members of the same or different species in which individuals are adversely affected by those having the same living requirements, such as food or space. Intraspecific competition, i.e.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Adaptive Radiation


the formation of diverse organismic forms within the limits of a species or a group of related species. The term was proposed by the American scientist H. Osborn in 1915, although the idea had already been advanced by C. Darwin, who employed the term “divergence.” Adaptive radiation is fundamental to all forms of adaptogenesis and is the result of the acquisition by organisms of special accommodations—adaptations and penetrations into new adaptive zones. The main origin of adaptive radiation is found in intraspecies processes such as genetic diversity of species populations, differentiation of the species into geographical and ecological races as a result of enlargement of the territory under favorable conditions, and intraspecies contradictions.

The scale of adaptive radiation may differ from one case to another. Large-scale adaptive radiation is found in the evolution of amphibians, some aquatic forms of which have tails (Urodela), while strictly amphibious forms preserve the tail only in the larval stage (Anura), and a third group, the dry-land forms, have lost their legs and assumed a serpentine character (Apoda). Examples of small-scale adaptive radiation associated with the formation of geographical races are found in the cases of the Kamchatka great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopus major Kamtschaticus ) and the Talysh lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopus minor quadrifasciatus ) or in races of the ordinary spruce—Norway (Picea excelsa), Siberian (Picea obovata), and Finnish (Picea fennica).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

adaptive radiation

[ə′dap·tiv ‚rād·ē′ā·shən]
Diversification of a dominant evolutionary group into a large number of subsidiary types adapted to more restrictive modes of life (different adaptive zones) within the range of the larger group.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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C., "Explosive speciation at the base of the adaptive radiation of miocene grazing horses" in Nature 336 (1988): 466-68 and Larson, A., "The relation between speciation and morphological evolution" in Speciation and Its Consequences edited by D.
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'More notably, however, I think it will prove to be telling evidence of the adaptive radiation of fossil ape-like creatures that included the common ancestor of modern humans and chimpanzees.'

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