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Diving into a dead-end: asymmetric evolution of diving drives diversity and disparity shifts in waterbirds


Tyler, J and Younger, JL, Diving into a dead-end: asymmetric evolution of diving drives diversity and disparity shifts in waterbirds, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences, 289, (1989) pp. 1-9. ISSN 0962-8452 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2022.2056


Diving is a relatively uncommon and highly specialized foraging strategy in birds, mostly observed within the Aequorlitornithes (waterbirds) by groups such as penguins, cormorants and alcids. Three key diving techniques are employed within waterbirds: wing-propelled pursuit diving (e.g. penguins), foot-propelled pursuit diving (e.g. cormorants) and plunge diving (e.g. gannets). How many times diving evolved within waterbirds, whether plunge diving is an intermediate state between aerial foraging and submarine diving, and whether the transition to a diving niche is reversible are not known. Here, we elucidate the evolutionary history of diving in waterbirds. We show that diving has been acquired independently at least 14 times within waterbirds, and this acquisition is apparently irreversible, in a striking example of asymmetric evolution. All three modes of diving have evolved independently, with no evidence for plunge diving as an intermediate evolutionary state. Net diversification rates differ significantly between diving versus non-diving lineages, with some diving clades apparently prone to extinction. We find that body mass is evolving under multiple macroevolutionary regimes, with unique optima for each diving type with varying degrees of constraint. Our findings highlight the vulnerability of highly specialized lineages during the ongoing sixth mass extinction.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:macroevolution, convergence, evolutionary ratchets, Aequorlitornithes, niche adaptation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Phylogeny and comparative analysis
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Younger, JL (Dr Jane Younger)
ID Code:154802
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2023-01-09
Last Modified:2023-01-16

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