The relationship between microevolution and macroevolution has long been controversial. Much of this controversy centers on whether the same processes cause evolution at both scales. Although many evolutionary biologists have asserted that most macroevolutionary phenomena reflect microevolutionary processes acting over extended periods of evolutionary time, this connection between micro- and macroevolution is often difficult to demonstrate. In this chapter, we examine whether certain macroevolutionary phenomena—such as adaptive radiation, the divergent nature of evolution, and the widespread tendency for lineages to increase in size and complexity—stem ultimately from competitively mediated selection acting on individual organisms. Although character displacement is not alone in contributing to macroevolution, the study of character displacement potentially helps unite microevolution and macroevolution.
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