Ecological Relevance of Speciation
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 November 2021
- LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0197
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 November 2021
- LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0197
In 1859, Charles Darwin described the formation of new species as “that mystery of mysteries.” Some 150 years later, biologists have made incredible progress in understanding the forces that promote, maintain, and constrain organismal biodiversity. The formation of new species, termed “speciation,” is the evolutionary process whereby a group of inbreeding populations diverges into two or more reproductively isolated groups. Ecology has always played a pivotal role in the verbal models of speciation, however, since the late 20th century, the role that ecology plays during speciation has been the subject of intensified research efforts. Specifically, we now know that ecological considerations can be essential to the formation of new species if and when barriers to gene flow evolve between populations as a result of ecologically based divergent natural selection. In this regard, research in the field of “ecological speciation” has focused on theoretical and quantitative considerations in the following three areas: (1) the ecological (i.e., environmental) sources of divergent natural selection, (2) the evolution of ecologically based barriers of reproductive isolation between diverging populations, and (3) the link between changes in the specific gene(s) or gene regions involved in the evolution of reproductive isolation and the distribution of those genes throughout the genome within and between diverging populations. In this article, we first provide a broad overview of the ecological speciation literature and a guide to important historical and contemporary texts that form the basis for the modern approach to ecological speciation. Next, we summarize important contemporary literature associated with the empirical and theoretical study of divergent natural selection, ecologically based reproductive isolation, and the genetics and genomics of ecological speciation. In addition, we highlight literature in the field of eco-evolutionary dynamics aimed at specifically understanding how evolutionary dynamics affect ecology and how ecology affects evolutionary biology. We then review literature regarding the role that next-generation sequencing and the “genomic revolution” are playing in elucidating the role of ecology in the speciation process. Lastly, we conclude by providing literature sources that assesses current unanswered questions in the field that show that, while parts of Darwin’s “mystery” have been solved, there is much left to be discovered.
There are several literature sources that highlight the patterns and processes promoting ecological speciation. The general role that ecology plays in the speciation process is typically outlined in most college-level ecology and organismal biology textbooks, and has been discussed in great detail in a number of book-length reviews, including Schluter 2000, Coyne and Orr 2004, and Nosil 2012. In addition, there have been a number of scientific articles addressing this topic, including a general overview of the topic in Rundle and Nosil 2005 and comprehensive taxa-specific reviews for insects in Berlocher and Feder 2002; fish in Schluter and Rambaut 1996; birds in Price 2008; bacteria in Horner-Devine, et al. 2004; and plants in Givnish 2010. The edited book Howard and Berlocher 1998 contains thirty-three chapters from different authors addressing methodological, theoretical, and quantitative treatments of speciation, with many specifically focusing on various aspects of the role of ecology in the speciation process.
Berlocher, S. H., and J. L. Feder. 2002. Sympatric speciation in insects: Moving beyond controversy? Annual Review of Entomology 47.1: 773–815.
An in-depth review of sympatric speciation (i.e., speciation in the absence of geographic barriers to gene flow) in insects with special attention paid to the role of ecology during the speciation process.
Coyne, J. A., and H. A. Orr. 2004. Speciation. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.
One of the most comprehensive book-length reviews of the process of speciation. Specifically, chapters 5, 7, and 8 focus on ecological speciation and the evolution of reproductive isolation.
Givnish, T. 2010. Ecology of plant speciation. Taxon 59.5: 1326–1366.
An in-depth review of ecological speciation and adaptive radiations of plants, including a detailed discussion of the role of pollinators in plant speciation.
Horner-Devine, M. C., K. M. Carney, and B. J. M. Bohannan. 2004. An ecological perspective on bacterial biodiversity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 271.1535: 113–122.
A unique review that compares and contrasts ecological patterns of plant and animal biodiversity with bacteria.
Howard, D. J., and S. H. Berlocher. 1998. Endless forms: Species and speciation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
An edited volume with thirty-three chapters by various authors, which provides a comprehensive review of reproductive isolation, divergent natural selection, and (ecological) speciation.
Nosil, P. 2012. Ecological speciation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
The most recent, comprehensive, book-length review of ecological speciation.
Price, T. 2008. Speciation in birds. Boulder, CO: Roberts.
A comprehensive book-length review of general patterns and processes of speciation in birds, including the role of ecology in the speciation process.
Rundle, H. D., and P. Nosil. 2005. Ecological speciation. Ecology Letters 8.3: 336–352.
A general review article on the evolution of divergent natural selection, sexual selection, reproductive isolation, and the geographic context of and genetic basis for ecological speciation across diverse taxa.
Schluter, D. 2000. The ecology of adaptive radiation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
This book reviews the process of adaptive radiations (i.e., when a single ancestral species diversifies into multiple new species that use a diversity of different environments) and the role that ecology plays in adaptive divergence.
Schluter, D., and A. Rambaut. 1996. Ecological speciation in postglacial fishes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 351.1341: 807–814.
A review of ecological speciation in fish with a focus on evidence for divergent natural selection between diverging populations of various taxa living in postglacial lakes.
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- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Adaptive Radiation
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Braun, E. Lucy
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- Dead Wood in Forest Ecosystems
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Education
- Ecological Engineering
- Ecological Forecasting
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecological Relevance of Speciation
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecology of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses
- Ecology of the Atlantic Forest
- Ecosystem Ecology
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environmental Anthropology
- Environmental Justice
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- European Natural History Tradition
- Evolutionarily Stable Strategies
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Grazer Ecology
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Harvesting Alternative Water Resources (US West)
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Indigenous Ecologies
- Industrial Ecology
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Keystone Species
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mass Effects
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Microclimate Ecology
- Multiple Stable States and Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosyste...
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Ocean Sprawl
- Odum, Eugene and Howard
- Old Fields
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Pastures and Pastoralism
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Plan...
- Plant Blindness
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Plant-Insect Interactions
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Ecology, Animal
- Population Ecology, Plant
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Secondary Production
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Simulation Modeling
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Spatial Scale and Biodiversity
- Species Distribution Modeling
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stochastic Processes
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Sustainable Development
- Systematic Conservation Planning
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Nitrogen Cycle
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Theory and Practice of Biological Control
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Tropical Humid Forest Biome
- Urban Ecology
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Vicariance Biogeography
- Weed Ecology
- Wetland Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology