Simpsonian ‘Evolution by Jumps’ in an Adaptive Radiation of Anolis Lizards
Jonathan M. Eastman, Daniel Wegmann, Christoph Leuenberger, Luke J. Harmon
(Submitted on 18 May 2013)
In his highly influential view of evolution, G. G. Simpson hypothesized that clades of species evolve in adaptive zones, defined as collections of niches occupied by species with similar traits and patterns of habitat use. Simpson hypothesized that species enter new adaptive zones in one of three ways: extinction of competitor species, dispersal to a new geographic region, or the evolution of a key trait that allows species to exploit resources in a new way. However, direct tests of Simpson’s hypotheses for the entry into new adaptive zones remain elusive. Here we evaluate the fit of a Simpsonian model of jumps between adaptive zones to phylogenetic comparative data. We use a novel statistical approach to show that anoles, a well-studied adaptive radiation of Caribbean lizards, have evolved by a series of evolutionary jumps in trait evolution. Furthermore, as Simpson predicted, trait axes strongly tied to habitat specialization show jumps that correspond with the evolution of key traits and/or dispersal between islands in the Greater Antilles. We conclude that jumps are commonly associated with major adaptive shifts in the evolutionary radiation of anoles.