Story: Evolution of plants and animals

Buttercup species

Buttercup species

These are three of the 25 alpine species of Ranunculus found in New Zealand. The Mt Cook lily (Ranunculus lyallii, top), hairy alpine buttercup (Ranunculus insignis, middle), and silky alpine buttercup (Ranunculus sericophyllus, bottom) are examples of adaptive radiation – where closely related species have developed into different forms and spread into a range of habitats. There are another 25 Ranunculus species outside of the alpine area. Buttercups are thought to have arrived in New Zealand 5 million years ago. Since then, mountain uplift and a cooling climate with intermittent glacial periods have provided new habitats and ideal conditions for the rapid evolution of new species.

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Department of Conservation
Reference: 10056196 (top); 10056201 (middle); 10059384 (bottom)

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How to cite this page:

Matt McGlone, 'Evolution of plants and animals - Radiations', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 December 2023)

Story by Matt McGlone, published 24 Sep 2007