How biodiversity is generated and maintained underlies many major questions in evolutionary biology, particularly relating to the tempo and pattern of diversification through time. Molecular phytogenies and new analytical methods provide additional tools to help interpret evolutionary processes. Evolutionary rates in lineages sometimes appear punctuated, and such “explosive” radiations are commonly interpreted as adaptive, leading to causative key innovations being sought. Here we argue that an alternative process might explain apparently rapid radiations (“broom-and-handle” or “stemmy” patterns seen in many phytogenies) with no need to invoke dramatic increase in the rate of diversification. We use simulations to show that mass extinction events can produce the same phylogenetic pattern as that currently being interpreted as due to an adaptive radiation. By comparing simulated and empirical phytogenies of Australian and southern African legumes, we find evidence for coincident mass extinctions in multiple lineages that could have resulted from global climate change at the end of the Eocene.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 63 • No. 9