The radiation continuum and the evolution of frog diversity

Gen Morinaga, John J. Wiens, Daniel S. Moen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most of life’s vast diversity of species and phenotypes is often attributed to adaptive radiation. Yet its contribution to species and phenotypic diversity of a major group has not been examined. Two key questions remain unresolved. First, what proportion of clades show macroevolutionary dynamics similar to adaptive radiations? Second, what proportion of overall species richness and phenotypic diversity do these adaptive-radiation-like clades contain? We address these questions with phylogenetic and morphological data for 1226 frog species across 43 families (which represent >99% of all species). Less than half of frog families resembled adaptive radiations (with rapid diversification and morphological evolution). Yet, these adaptive-radiation-like clades encompassed ~75% of both morphological and species diversity, despite rapid rates in other clades (e.g., non-adaptive radiations). Overall, we support the importance of adaptive-radiation-like evolution for explaining diversity patterns and provide a framework for characterizing macroevolutionary dynamics and diversity patterns in other groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7100
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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