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Evolution's WedgeCompetition and the Origins of Diversity$
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David W. Pfennig and Karin S. Pfennig

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520274181

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520274181.001.0001

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Discovery of A Unifying Principle

Discovery of A Unifying Principle

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Discovery of A Unifying Principle
Source:
Evolution's Wedge
Author(s):

David W. Pfennig

Karin S. Pfennig

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520274181.003.0001

To explain biodiversity, Darwin proposed that organisms face recurring competition for scarce resources, and that such competition favors individuals least like their competitors. This evolutionary process is now known as “character displacement.” Character displacement is expected to produce a pattern of exaggerated divergence where species co-occur, which is how it is often detected. However, the process of character displacement has been confounded with the pattern that it is expected to produce. To avoid such confusion, we define “character displacement” as trait evolution arising as an adaptive response to resource competition or deleterious reproductive interactions between species. We describe how the study of character displacement can help unify disparate areas of evolutionary biology as well as evolution and ecology.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, character displacement, competition, discovery of character displacement, pattern versus process, species sorting, trait evolution

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