The availability of increasingly comprehensive phylogenies has provided unprecedented opportunities to assess macroevolutionary patterns, yet studies on invertebrate diversification are few. In particular, despite the ecological and evolutionary importance of ants, little is known about their tempo and mode of diversification. Recent advances in ant phylogenetics can now provide a basis for rigorous analyses of the diversification of ant lineages. The goals of the present study are threefold. First, we demonstrate that a hypothesized disproportionate increase in ant diversification during the angiosperm radiation is largely artifactual. Rather, current evidence points to a fairly constant rate of lineage growth during its history. Moreover, an analysis of diversification patterns across the ant phylogeny indicates considerable rate heterogeneity among lineages. Indeed, and contrary to the expectation if lineages had experienced a single rate of lineage increase, we found no correspondence between genus age and diversity. Finally, we demonstrate a statistically significant phylogenetic signal in ant diversification: closely related genera have diversities that are more similar to one another than one would expect by chance. This suggests that the capacity for diversification may be itself a biological trait that evolved during the radiation of the family Formicidae.
- Adaptive radiation