Ecological Opportunity In Adaptive Radiation Of Galapagos Endemic Land Snails
The classic evolutionary hypothesis of ecological opportunity proposes that both heterogeneity of resources and freedom from enemies promote phenotypic divergence as a response to increased niche availability. Although phenotypic divergence and speciation have often been inferred to be the primary consequences of the release from competition or predation that accompanies a shift to a new adaptive zone, increased phenotypic variation within species is expected to represent the first stage resulting from such a shift. Using measures of intraspecific morphological variation of 30 species of Galapagos endemic land snails in a phylogenetically controlled framework, we show that the number of local congeners and the number of local plant species are associated with lower and higher intraspecific phenotypic variation, respectively. In this clade, ecological opportunity thus explicitly links the role of competition from congeners and the heterogeneity of resources to the extent of intraspecific phenotypic divergence as adaptive radiation proceeds.