What is the difference between divergent evolution and adaptive radiation? People have Said different things

Divergent evolution is when species from a common ancestor evolve differences by adapting to different environmental conditions

Adaptive radiation - species evolve differences due to the different environments

Are they essentially the same thing also I’m confused with the terminology niche

Could someone please tell me the similarities and differences between the two

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE.biology & thanks for your question. It's helpful for people trying to answer your question if you include links to sources for the statements made, rather than saying 'People have said different things'. $\endgroup$ – user438383 Sep 13 at 18:35

They are similar, but distinct, concepts.

In divergent evolution, selective pressure causes differences within a single species to accumulate, eventually leading to speciation. Speciation can be caused by a variety of factors, such as geographical, reproductive, behavioral, or temporal isolation, etc.

In adaptive radiation, typically several niches are present in an ecosystem, leading to several species evolving from a single common ancestor. A niche is essentially an opportunity for a species in an ecosystem to evolve, to where there is little to no competition. Darwin's finches tend to be the prime example for adaptive radiation. Since there was little competition when the finches first arrived at the Galapagos islands, they speciated into multiple distinct species to specialize in consumption of seeds, fruits, insects, etc. Eventually, each species evolved to have distinct traits, such as in their behaviour and reproduction, making mating between species close to nill.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is not a hard, clear distinction between the two. In divergent evolution, accumulation of differences as a result of selective pressures amounts to adaptation to different "niches" defined by behavior, environmental role, etc. The two terms are useful and have different meanings as you've describe, but their meanings overlap. $\endgroup$ – S. McGrew Sep 13 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, their meanings do overlap. However by distinct I meant the terms are generally not interchangeable; as I understand adaptive radiation is only used for several speciation events occurring from a single ancestor. But yes, I believe this would still be considered divergent evolution. $\endgroup$ – Raiyan Chowdhury Sep 13 at 16:01

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