Ecological opportunity and predator-prey interactions: Linking eco-evolutionary processes and diversification in adaptive radiations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Much of life’s diversity has arisen through ecological opportunity and adaptive radiations, but the mechanistic underpinning of such diversification is not fully understood. Competition and predation can affect adaptive radiations, but contrasting theoretical and empirical results show that they can both promote and interrupt diversification. A mechanistic understanding of the link between microevolutionary processes and macroevolutionary patterns is thus needed, especially in trophic communities. Here, we use a trait-based eco-evolutionary model to investigate the mechanisms linking competition, predation and adaptive radiations. By combining available micro-evolutionary theory and simulations of adaptive radiations we show that intraspecific competition is crucial for diversification as it induces disruptive selection, in particular in early phases of radiation. The diversification rate is however decreased in later phases owing to interspecific competition as niche availability, and population sizes are decreased.We provide newinsight into how predation tends to have a negative effect on prey diversification through decreased population sizes, decreased disruptive selection and through the exclusion of prey from parts of niche space. The seemingly disparate effects of competition and predation on adaptive radiations, listed in the literature, may thus be acting and interacting in the same adaptive radiation at different relative strength as the radiation progresses.


External organisations
  • University of Zurich
  • Umeå University
Research areas and keywords


  • Adaptive radiation, Community patterns, Competition, Ecological speciation, Macroevolution, Predation
Original languageEnglish
Article number20172550
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1874
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 14
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Related projects

View all (1)