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Keywords:

  • Adaptive radiation;
  • contingency;
  • landscape genetics;
  • recurrence;
  • spatial convergence;
  • speciation

The evolutionary processes that produce adaptive radiations are enigmatic. They can only be studied after the fact, once a radiation has occurred and been recognized, rather than while the processes are ongoing. One way to connect pattern to process is to study the processes driving divergence today among populations of species that belong to an adaptive radiation, and compare the results to patterns observed at a deeper, macroevolutionary level. We tested whether evolution is a deterministic process with similar outcomes during different stages of the adaptive radiation of Anolis lizards. Using a clade of terrestrial–scansorial lizards in the genus Anolis, we inferred the adaptive basis of spatial variation among contemporary populations and tested whether axes of phenotypic differentiation among them mirror known axes of diversification at deeper levels of the anole radiation. Nonparallel change associated with genetic divergence explains the vast majority of geographic variation. However, we found phenotypic variation to be adaptive as confirmed by convergence in populations occurring in similar habitats in different mountain ranges. Morphological diversification among populations recurs deterministically along two axes of diversification previously identified in the anole radiation, but the characters involved differ from those involved in adaptation at higher levels of anole phylogeny.