, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 283-300

Ecology in relation to speciation rates: some case histories of Miocene-Recent mammal clades

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Some African mammal clades are used to analyse evolutionary processes. The clades chosen are especially suitable for this purpose because they include both extant species, for which there is an abundant literature, and fossil records from various Miocene-Recent strata mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa. The monophyletic groups in this sample differ considerably in speciation rates and in the magnitudes of long-term trends. I take a number of rival hypotheses as to why such disparate macroevolutionary patterns should have evolved (the Birth Rate, Gene Flow, Resource-Use, Extrinsic and Random Hypotheses) and test their predictions. The tests involve comparisons of phylogenetic patterns with biological variation (in life histories, population structure, mobility and habitat-specificity) among the extant species. The results accord best with the Resource-Use Hypothesis.