Adaptive radiations are typically triggered when a lineage encounters a significant range of open niche space (ecological opportunity), stemming from colonisation of new areas, extinction of competitors or key innovations. The most well-known of these is the colonisation of new areas, through either dispersal into new regions or the invasion of novel ecological regimes. One aspect of ecological opportunity that has rarely been studied, however, is the extent to which pre-existent competitors act to limit diversification in newly colonised adaptive zones. Herein, we show that in multiple geographically independent invasions of freshwaters by marine Sea Catfishes (Ariidae), rates of both morphological disparification and lineage diversification are inversely related to the presence and diversity of other freshwater fish lineages. Only in one region (Australia-New Guinea) with an otherwise depauperate freshwater fauna, has an ariid invasion gained any substantial traction. This is true at both regional and community scales, suggesting that competitive constraints may be an important factor regulating adaptive radiation.
If you can't find a tool you're looking for, please click the link at the top of the page to "Go to old article view". Alternatively, view our Knowledge Base articles for additional help. Your feedback is important to us, so please let us know if you have comments or ideas for improvement.