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key innovationSchlüsselinnovation (ger.)

  • A morphological or physical transformation, allowing the occupation of an entirely new ecological niche. (HWB 2011)
    The degree of ecologic or adaptive advantage of the key innovation governs the size (in number of species or other subdivisions) of the group to be.
    Miller, A.H. (1949). Some ecologic and morphologic considerations in the evolution of higher taxonomic categories. In: Mayr, E. & Schüz, E. (eds.). Ornithologie als biologische Wissenschaft, 84-88: 85.
    Many preadaptations permit the organism to enter a new niche relationship and exploit a new habitat; these preadaptations are generally termed key innovations
    Bock, W. & Wahlert, G. von (1965). Adaptation and the form-function complex. Evolution 19, 269-299: 292.
    Nevertheless, the various definitions of key innovation share the basic idea that some attributes of organisms have been important over evolutionary time.

    Hunter, J.P. (1998). Key innovations and the ecology of macroevolution. Trends Ecol. Evol. 13, 31-36: 31.