Testing the adaptive radiation hypothesis for the lemurs of Madagascar.


Journal Article

Lemurs, the diverse, endemic primates of Madagascar, are thought to represent a classic example of adaptive radiation. Based on the most complete phylogeny of living and extinct lemurs yet assembled, I tested predictions of adaptive radiation theory by estimating rates of speciation, extinction and adaptive phenotypic evolution. As predicted, lemur speciation rate exceeded that of their sister clade by nearly twofold, indicating the diversification dynamics of lemurs and mainland relatives may have been decoupled. Lemur diversification rates did not decline over time, however, as predicted by adaptive radiation theory. Optimal body masses diverged among dietary and activity pattern niches as lineages diversified into unique multidimensional ecospace. Based on these results, lemurs only partially fulfil the predictions of adaptive radiation theory, with phenotypic evolution corresponding to an 'early burst' of adaptive differentiation. The results must be interpreted with caution, however, because over the long evolutionary history of lemurs (approx. 50 million years), the 'early burst' signal of adaptive radiation may have been eroded by extinction.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Herrera, JP

Published Date

  • January 18, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 161014 -

PubMed ID

  • 28280597

Pubmed Central ID

  • 28280597

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2054-5703

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2054-5703

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rsos.161014


  • eng