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Nonequilibrium Diversity Dynamics of the Lesser Antillean Avifauna

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Science  16 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5546, pp. 1522-1524
DOI: 10.1126/science.1065005

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Abstract

MacArthur and Wilson's model of island diversity predicts an increase in the number of species until colonization and extinction are balanced at a long-term steady state. We appraise this model on an evolutionary time scale by molecular phylogenetic analysis of the colonization of the Lesser Antilles by small land birds. The pattern of accumulation of species with time, estimated by genetic divergence between island and source lineages, rejects a homogeneous model of colonization and extinction. Rather, our results suggest an abrupt, roughly 10-fold increase in colonization rate or a 90% mass extinction event 0.55 to 0.75 million years ago.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ricklefs{at}umsl.edu

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