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Adaptive Radiation

Submitted by bthoole on Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:44

Adaptive radiation is an evolutionary process that explains how organisms can rapidly evolve and diversify from one common ancestor into many different species. This is especially effective when the environment changes and creates new niche spaces for the once common ancestor to fill. The change in environment could be a physical boundary between the common ancestor group that separates them to change, but it could also be the introduction of a different food supply or new predator species. These forces act on the common ancestor and it fills different niche spaces and as they adapt to fill these new spaces, they also diversify enough to be different species. A well-known example of adaptive radiation is in Darwin’s finches. Although they present as different species on the outset, it is possible to trace them back to the same common ancestor. Their evolution occurred over a short period of time and their evolutionary adaptative difference can be explained by the island that the finches inhabit. Once the common ancestor was spread to the different islands of the Galapagos, different environmental pressures presented themselves, such as different food sources which would change the beak shape of the birds.