Trophic shifts into new adaptive zones have played major (although often conflicting) roles in reshaping the evolutionary trajectories of many lineages. We analyze data on diet, tooth, and oral morphology and relate these traits to phenotypic disparification and lineage diversification rates across the ecologically diverse Terapontidae, a family of Australasian fishes. In contrast to carnivores and most omnivores, which have retained relatively simple, ancestral caniniform tooth shapes, herbivorous terapontids appear to have evolved a variety of novel tooth shapes at significantly faster rates to meet the demands of plant-based diets. The evolution of herbivory prompted major disparification, significantly expanding the terapontid adaptive phenotypic continuum into an entirely novel functional morphospace. There was minimal support for our hypothesis of faster overall rates of integrated tooth shape, spacing, and jaw biomechanical evolution in herbivorous terapontids in their entirety, compared with other trophic strategies. There was, however, considerable support for accelerated disparification within a diverse freshwater clade containing a range of specialized freshwater herbivores. While the evolutionary transition to herbivorous diets has played a central role in terapontid phenotypic diversification by pushing herbivores toward novel fitness peaks, there was little support for herbivory driving significantly higher lineage diversification compared with background rates across the family.
Davis, A. M., Unmack, P. J., Vari, R. P., & Betancur-R., R. (2016). Herbivory promotes dental disparification and macroevolutionary dynamics in grunters (teleostei: Terapontidae), a freshwater adaptive radiation. American Naturalist, 187(3), 320–333. https://doi.org/10.1086/684747