Parallel adaptations to nectarivory in parrots, key innovations and the diversification of the Loriinae
Article first published online: 16 JUN 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 14, pages 2867–2883, July 2014
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2014; 4(14):2867–2883
- Issue published online: 21 JUL 2014
- Article first published online: 16 JUN 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 MAY 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 5 MAY 2014
- Manuscript Received: 2 APR 2014
- Silva Casa Foundation
- Comparative methods;
- diet shift;
- digestive tract;
- evolutionary trait shifts;
- morphological adaptations
Specialization to nectarivory is associated with radiations within different bird groups, including parrots. One of them, the Australasian lories, were shown to be unexpectedly species rich. Their shift to nectarivory may have created an ecological opportunity promoting species proliferation. Several morphological specializations of the feeding tract to nectarivory have been described for parrots. However, they have never been assessed in a quantitative framework considering phylogenetic nonindependence. Using a phylogenetic comparative approach with broad taxon sampling and 15 continuous characters of the digestive tract, we demonstrate that nectarivorous parrots differ in several traits from the remaining parrots. These trait-changes indicate phenotype–environment correlations and parallel evolution, and may reflect adaptations to feed effectively on nectar. Moreover, the diet shift was associated with significant trait shifts at the base of the radiation of the lories, as shown by an alternative statistical approach. Their diet shift might be considered as an evolutionary key innovation which promoted significant non-adaptive lineage diversification through allopatric partitioning of the same new niche. The lack of increased rates of cladogenesis in other nectarivorous parrots indicates that evolutionary innovations need not be associated one-to-one with diversification events.