Proximity to an adaptive peak influences a lineage's potential to diversify. We tested whether piscivory, a high quality but functionally demanding trophic strategy, represents an adaptive peak that limits morphological diversification in the teleost fish clade, Centrarchidae. We synthesized published diet data and applied a well-resolved, multilocus and time-calibrated phylogeny to reconstruct ancestral piscivory. We measured functional features of the skull and performed principal components analysis on species' values for these variables. To assess the role of piscivory on morphological diversification, we compared the fit of several models of evolution for each principal component (PC), where model parameters were allowed to vary between lineages that differed in degree of piscivory. According to the best-fitting model, two adaptive peaks influenced PC 1 evolution, one peak shared between highly and moderately piscivorous lineages and another for nonpiscivores. Brownian motion better fit PCs 2, 3, and 4, but the best Brownian models infer a slow rate of PC 2 evolution shared among all piscivores and a uniquely slow rate of PC 4 evolution in highly piscivorous lineages. These results suggest that piscivory limits feeding morphology diversification, but this effect is most severe in lineages that exhibit an extreme form of this diet.
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