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The coincidence of ecological opportunity with hybridization explains rapid adaptive radiation in Lake Mweru cichlid fishes

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Abstract: The process of adaptive radiation was classically hypothesized to require isolation of a lineage from its source (no gene flow) and from related species (no competition). Alternatively, hybridization between species may generate genetic variation that facilitates adaptive radiation. Here we study haplochromine cichlid assemblages in two African Great Lakes to test these hypotheses. Greater biotic isolation (fewer lineages) predicts fewer constraints by competition and hence more ecological opportunity in Lake Bangweulu, whereas opportunity for hybridization predicts increased genetic potential in Lake Mweru. In Lake Bangweulu, we find no evidence for hybridization but also no adaptive radiation. We show that the Bangweulu lineages also colonized Lake Mweru, where they hybridized with Congolese lineages and then underwent multiple adaptive radiations that are strikingly complementary in ecology and morphology. Our data suggest that the presence of several related lineages does not necessarily prevent adaptive radiation, although it constrains the trajectories of morphological diversification. It might instead facilitate adaptive radiation when hybridization generates genetic variation, without which radiation may start much later, progress more slowly or never occur.



Article, /631/158/857, /631/181/2474, /631/181/759/2467, /631/601/2722, /49/22, /49/23, /45/77, article

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Nature Communications

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Nature Publishing Group UK
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung (Swiss National Science Foundation) (PDFMP3_134657, 1535 17-870)