TLDR: Adaptive radiation is when a group of organisms rapidly diversify from a single ancestor into many different forms. This happens when there are new resources available, changes in the environment, or new niches to fill. Examples include Darwin's finches in the Galapagos, cichlids in African lakes, Hawaiian honeycreepers, Caribbean anoles, and more.
Adaptive radiation is a process in evolutionary biology where organisms quickly diversify from a single ancestor into a variety of new forms. This usually happens when there are changes in the environment, new resources become available, or new niches are created. It results in the speciation and adaptation of different species with unique traits and characteristics. One famous example of adaptive radiation is Darwin's finches in the Galapagos Islands. These finches evolved different beak shapes to exploit different food sources, allowing them to survive and thrive in their respective environments.
Another example is the cichlids in the African Great Lakes, such as Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi, and Lake Victoria. These lakes are home to a wide range of cichlid species that have adapted to different ecological roles and habitats. They have evolved diverse morphological and physiological traits to exploit various food sources and niches in their respective lakes.
Hawaii is also known for its adaptive radiations, including the Hawaiian honeycreepers, which are a group of birds with specialized beaks for different types of food sources. The Hawaiian silverswords are another example, with different species adapted to different habitats and ecological roles. The Caribbean anoles have also undergone adaptive radiation, with different species evolving similar traits and adaptations on different islands.