The Evolution of ‘Ecological Release’ into the 21st Century

Nicholas C. Herrmann, James T. Stroud, Jonathan B. Losos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Ecological release, originally conceived as niche expansion following a reduction in interspecific competition, may prompt invasion success, morphological evolution, speciation, and other ecological and evolutionary outcomes. However, the concept has not been recently reviewed. Here, we trace the study of ‘ecological release’ from its inception through the present day and find that current definitions are broad and highly varied. Viewing this development as a potential impediment to clear communication and hypothesis testing, we suggest a consensus definition for ecological release: niche expansions and shifts when a constraining interspecific interaction is reduced or removed. In rationalizing this definition, we highlight the various ways ecological release can unfold and address its potential evolutionary consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-215
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • ecological character displacement
  • ecological release
  • interspecific competition
  • niche expansion


Dive into the research topics of 'The Evolution of ‘Ecological Release’ into the 21st Century'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this