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Adaptive Radiation in Hawaii with Special Reference to Insects

Elwood C. Zimmerman
Biotropica
Vol. 2, No. 1 (Jun., 1970), pp. 32-38
DOI: 10.2307/2989786
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2989786
Page Count: 7
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Adaptive Radiation in Hawaii with Special Reference to Insects
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Abstract

The Hawaiian biota originated from ancestors which arrived accidentally from various directions across open sea. These plants and animals became established in a favorable environment on a young, rapidly changing geological substrate where environmental pressures were limited. Processes of adaptive radiation were thus given much freedom for operation in a sort of "biological vacuum." This condition resulted in an astonishing proliferation of species, species diversification, adaptive morphology, and habitat utilization. The many empty ecological niches have been filled by plants and animals delicately adapted to them and resulting in the development of remarkable differences from their nearest relatives in other areas. This flourishing adaptive radiation would continue today, but its variety and rapidity have been slowed to a disturbing degree by the vastly increased activities of man. The new unfavorable conditions introduced by man have doomed a large fraction of the biota to extermination, and it is doubtful if such an unique biological flowering will ever again be duplicated on earth.

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