Adaptive radiation, which results when a single ancestral species gives rise to many descendants, each adapted to a different part of the environment, is possibly the single most important source of biological diversity in the living world. One of the best-studied examples involves Caribbean Anolis lizards. With about 400 species, Anolis has played an important role in the development of ecological theory and has become a model system exemplifying the integration of ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral studies to understand evolutionary diversification. This major work, written by one of the best-known investigators of Anolis, reviews and synthesizes an immense literature. Jonathan B. Losos illustrates how different scientific approaches to the questions of adaptation and diversification can be integrated and examines evolutionary and ecological questions of interest to a broad range of biologists.
Jonathan B. Losos is a Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. He is a newly elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a recent recipient of the esteemed Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal. Losos is recognized for his novel and penetrating evolutionary studies of adaptive radiation in vertebrates, notably his comprehensive study of Anolis lizards in tropical America, as summarized in his recent book, Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree: Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles.
"In a book both beautifully illustrated and deeply informative, Jonathan Losos, a leader in evolutionary ecology, celebrates and analyzes the diversity of the natural world that the fascinating anoline lizards epitomize. Readers who are drawn to nature by its beauty or its intellectual challenges—or both—will find his book rewarding."—Douglas J. Futuyma, State University of New York, Stony Brook
"This book is destined to become a classic. It is scholarly, informative, stimulating, and highly readable, and will inspire a generation of students."—Peter R. Grant, author of How and Why Species Multiply: The Radiation of Darwin's Finches
"Anoline lizards experienced a spectacular adaptive radiation in the dynamic landscape of the Caribbean islands. The radiation has extended over a long period of time and has featured separate radiations on the larger islands. Losos, the leading active student of these lizards, presents an integrated and synthetic overview, summarizing the enormous and multidimensional research literature. This engaging book makes a wonderful example of an adaptive radiation accessible to all, and the lavish illustrations, especially the photographs, make the anoles come alive in one's mind."—David Wake, University of California, Berkeley
"This magnificent book is a celebration and synthesis of one of the most eventful adaptive radiations known. With disarming prose and personal narrative Jonathan Losos shows how an obsession, beginning at age ten, became a methodology and a research plan that, together with studies by colleagues and predecessors, culminated in many of the principles we now regard as true about the origins and maintenance of biodiversity. This work combines rigorous analysis and glorious natural history in a unique volume that stands with books by the Grants on Darwin's finches among the most informed and engaging accounts ever written on the evolution of a group of organisms in nature."—Dolph Schluter, author of The Ecology of Adaptive Radiation
Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal, National Academy of Sciences
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