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1.  Invasive Species and Biodiversity Crises: Testing the Link in the Late Devonian 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15584.
During the Late Devonian Biodiversity Crisis, the primary driver of biodiversity decline was the dramatic reduction in speciation rates, not elevated extinction rates; however, the causes of speciation decline have been previously unstudied. Speciation, the formation of new species from ancestral populations, occurs by two primary allopatric mechanisms: vicariance, where the ancestral population is passively divided into two large subpopulations that later diverge and form two daughter species, and dispersal, in which a small subset of the ancestral population actively migrates then diverges to form a new species. Studies of modern and fossil clades typically document speciation by vicariance in much higher frequencies than speciation by dispersal. To assess the mechanism behind Late Devonian speciation reduction, speciation rates were calculated within stratigraphically constrained species-level phylogenetic hypotheses for three representative clades and mode of speciation at cladogenetic events was assessed across four clades in three phyla: Arthropoda, Brachiopoda, and Mollusca. In all cases, Devonian taxa exhibited a congruent reduction in speciation rate between the Middle Devonian pre-crisis interval and the Late Devonian crisis interval. Furthermore, speciation via vicariance is almost entirely absent during the crisis interval; most episodes of speciation during this time were due to dispersal. The shutdown of speciation by vicariance during this interval was related to widespread interbasinal species invasions. The lack of Late Devonian vicariance is diametrically opposed to the pattern observed in other geologic intervals, which suggests the loss of vicariant speciation attributable to species invasions during the Late Devonian was a causal factor in the biodiversity crisis. Similarly, modern ecosystems, in which invasive species are rampant, may be expected to exhibit similar shutdown of speciation by vicariance as an outcome of the modern biodiversity crisis.
PMCID: PMC3012059  PMID: 21206907
2.  The herring gull complex is not a ring species. 
Under what circumstances speciation in sexually reproducing animals can occur without geographical disjunction is still controversial. According to the ring-species model, a reproductive barrier may arise through 'isolation by distance' when peripheral populations of a species meet after expanding around some uninhabitable barrier. The classical example of this kind of speciation is the herring gull (Larus argentatus) complex, with a circumpolar distribution in the Northern Hemisphere. Based on mitochondrial DNA variation among 21 gull taxa, we show that members of this complex differentiated largely in allopatry following multiple vicariance and long-distance-colonization events, not primarily through isolation by distance. Reproductive isolation evolved more rapidly between some lineages than between others, irrespective of their genetic distance. Extant taxa are the result of divergent as well as reticulate evolution between two ancestral lineages originally separated in a North Atlantic refugium and a continental Eurasian refugium, respectively. Continental birds expanded along the entire north Eurasian coast and via Beringia into North America. Contrary to the ring-species model, we find no genetic evidence for a closure of the circumpolar ring through colonization of Europe by North American herring gulls. However, closure of the ring in the opposite direction may be imminent, with lesser black-backed gulls about to colonize North America.
PMCID: PMC1691675  PMID: 15255043
3.  Integration of populations and differentiation of species 
The New phytologist  2004;161(1):59-69.
The framework for modern studies of speciation was established as part of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis of the early twentieth century. Here we evaluate this framework in the light of recent empirical and theoretical studies. Evidence from experimental studies of selection, quantitative genetic studies of species’ differences, and the molecular evolution of ‘isolation’ genes, all agree that directional selection is the primary cause of speciation, as initially proposed by Darwin. Likewise, as suggested by Dobzhansky and Mayr, gene flow does hold species together, but probably more by facilitating the spread of beneficial mutants and associated hitchhiking events than by homogenizing neutral loci. Reproductive barriers are important as well in that they preserve adaptations, but as has been stressed by botanists for close to a century, they rarely protect the entire genome from gene flow in recently diverged species. Contrary to early views, it is now clear that speciation can occur in the presence of gene flow. However, recent theory does support the long-held view that population structure and small population size may increase speciation rates, but only under special conditions and not because of the increased efficacy of drift as suggested by earlier authors. Rather, low levels of migration among small populations facilitates the rapid accumulation of beneficial mutations that indirectly cause hybrid incompatibilities.
PMCID: PMC2601656  PMID: 19079640
gene flow; introgression; population size; population subdivision; reproductive isolation; selection; selective sweep; speciation
4.  Body size evolution simultaneously creates and collapses species boundaries in a clade of scincid lizards 
Speciation is generally viewed as an irreversible process, although habitat alterations can erase reproductive barriers if divergence between ecologically differentiated species is recent. Reversed speciation might also occur if geographical contact is established between species that have evolved the same reproductive isolating barrier in parallel. Here, we demonstrate a loss of intrinsic reproductive isolation in a clade of scincid lizards as a result of parallel body size evolution, which has allowed for gene flow where large-bodied lineages are in secondary contact. An mtDNA phylogeny confirms the monophyly of the Plestiodon skiltonianus species complex, but rejects that of two size-differentiated ecomorphs. Mate compatibility experiments show that the high degree of body size divergence imposes a strong reproductive barrier between the two morphs; however, the strength of the barrier is greatly diminished between parallel-evolved forms. Since two large-bodied lineages are in geographical contact in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, we were also able to test for postzygotic isolation under natural conditions. Analyses of amplified fragment length polymorphisms show that extensive gene exchange is occurring across the contact zone, resulting in an overall pattern consistent with isolation by distance. These results provide evidence of reversed speciation between clades that diverged from a common ancestor more than 12 Myr ago.
PMCID: PMC2493581  PMID: 17490944
parallel speciation; parallelism; reproductive isolation; scincid lizards; Plestiodon
5.  Conditions for mutation-order speciation 
Two models for speciation via selection have been proposed. In the well-known model of ‘ecological speciation’, divergent natural selection between environments drives the evolution of reproductive isolation. In a second ‘mutation-order’ model, different, incompatible mutations (alleles) fix in different populations adapting to the same selective pressure. How to demonstrate mutation-order speciation has been unclear, although it has been argued that it can be ruled out when gene flow occurs because the same, most advantageous allele will fix in all populations. However, quantitative examination of the interaction of factors influencing the likelihood of mutation-order speciation is lacking. We used simulation models to study how gene flow, hybrid incompatibility, selective advantage, timing of origination of new mutations and an initial period of allopatric differentiation affect population divergence via the mutation-order process. We find that at least some population divergence can occur under a reasonably wide range of conditions, even with moderate gene flow. However, strong divergence (e.g. fixation of different alleles in different populations) requires very low gene flow, and is promoted when (i) incompatible mutations have similar fitness advantages, (ii) less fit mutations arise slightly earlier in evolutionary time than more fit alternatives, and (iii) allopatric divergence occurs prior to secondary contact.
PMCID: PMC3013408  PMID: 20702458
Dobzhansky–Muller incompatibilities; ecological speciation; gene flow; migration; reproductive isolation; uniform selection
6.  Relative risks of inbreeding and outbreeding depression in the wild in endangered salmon 
Evolutionary Applications  2011;4(5):634-647.
Conservation biologists routinely face the dilemma of keeping small, fragmented populations isolated, wherein inbreeding depression may ensue, or mixing such populations, which may exacerbate population declines via outbreeding depression. The joint evaluation of inbreeding and outbreeding risks in the wild cannot be readily conducted in endangered species, so a suggested ‘safe’ strategy is to mix ecologically and genetically similar populations. To evaluate this strategy, we carried out a reciprocal transplant experiment involving three neighboring populations of endangered Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) now bred in captivity and maintained in captive and wild environments. Pure, inbred, and outbred (first and second generation) cross types were released and recaptured in the wild to simultaneously test for local adaptation, inbreeding depression, and outbreeding depression. We found little evidence of inbreeding depression after one generation of inbreeding and little evidence of either heterosis or outbreeding depression via genetic incompatibilities after one or two generations of outbreeding. A trend for outbreeding depression via the loss of local adaptation was documented in one of three populations. The effects of inbreeding were not significantly different from the effects of outbreeding. Hence, at the geographic scale evaluated (34–50 km), inbreeding for one generation and outbreeding over two generations may have similar effects on the persistence of small populations. The results further suggested that outbreeding outcomes may be highly variable or unpredictable at small genetic distances. Our work highlights the necessity of evaluating the relative costs of inbreeding and outbreeding in the conservation and management of endangered species on a case-by-case basis.
PMCID: PMC3352539
Atlantic salmon; Canada; conservation; heterosis; local adaptation; risk assessment
7.  Maintenance of adaptive differentiation by Wolbachia induced bidirectional cytoplasmic incompatibility: the importance of sib-mating and genetic systems 
Bacteria of the genus Wolbachia are reproductive parasites widespread among arthropods. The most common effect arising from the presence of Wolbachia in a population is Cytoplasmic Incompatibility (CI), whereby postmating reproductive isolation occurs in crosses between an infected male and an uninfected female, or when a male is infected with a different strain of Wolbachia to that of the female (bidirectional CI). Previous theoretical models have demonstrated that bidirectional CI can contribute to the genetic divergence of populations in haploid and diploid organisms. However, haplodiploid organisms were not considered in these models even though they include Nasonia parasitoid wasps – the best example of the implication of Wolbachia in ongoing speciation. Moreover, previous work did not investigate inbreeding mating systems, which are frequently observed in arthropod species.
We developed a stochastic two-island model which simulated three genetic scenarios, diploidy, haploidy, and haplodiploidy, with two CI phenotypes being considered for the latter: (1) male development of female progeny; and (2) mortality of fertilized eggs. We also investigated the effect of varying the proportion of sib mating. In the model each allopatric population was initially fixed for a single allele at a nuclear locus under positive selection and infected with one strain of Wolbachia. Each simulation presupposed that the two populations were fixed for a different allele and a different strain of Wolbachia. The degree of genetic differentiation observed in the locus under selection due to bidirectional CI was much lower for the two haplodiploid phenotypes than for either diploids or haploids. Furthermore, we demonstrated that sib-mating may compensate for the lower efficiency of bidirectional CI in haplodiploids by maintaining genetic divergence.
Our model suggests that maintenance of genetic differentiation facilitated by Wolbachia is more likely to occur in diploids and haploids than in haplodiploids. However, increasing the level of sib-mating may compensate for the weak effect of bidirectional CI in haplodiploids. Our work therefore gives a potential explanation for why the haplodiploid Nasonia species, which are infected with bidirectionally incompatible Wolbachia strains and undergo sib-mating, have differentiated genetically and maintained this differentiation without premating isolation.
PMCID: PMC2738673  PMID: 19653892
8.  Strong spatial genetic structure in five tropical Piper species: should the Baker–Fedorov hypothesis be revived for tropical shrubs? 
Ecology and Evolution  2011;1(4):502-516.
Fifty years ago, Baker and Fedorov proposed that the high species diversity of tropical forests could arise from the combined effects of inbreeding and genetic drift leading to population differentiation and eventually to sympatric speciation. Decades of research, however have failed to support the Baker–Fedorov hypothesis (BFH), and it has now been discarded in favor of a paradigm where most trees are self-incompatible or strongly outcrossing, and where long-distance pollen dispersal prevents population drift. Here, we propose that several hyper-diverse genera of tropical herbs and shrubs, including Piper (>1,000 species), may provide an exception. Species in this genus often have aggregated, high-density populations with self-compatible breeding systems; characteristics which the BFH would predict lead to high local genetic differentiation. We test this prediction for five Piper species on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) markers. All species showed strong genetic structure at both fine- and large-spatial scales. Over short distances (200–750 m) populations showed significant genetic differentiation (Fst 0.11–0.46, P < 0.05), with values of spatial genetic structure that exceed those reported for other tropical tree species (Sp = 0.03–0.136). This genetic structure probably results from the combined effects of limited seed and pollen dispersal, clonal spread, and selfing. These processes are likely to have facilitated the diversification of populations in response to local natural selection or genetic drift and may explain the remarkable diversity of this rich genus.
PMCID: PMC3287332  PMID: 22393518
AFLP; Barro Colorado Island; Clonal reproduction; Gene flow; Piperaceae
9.  Microsatellite Support for Active Inbreeding in a Cichlid Fish 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24689.
In wild animal populations, the degree of inbreeding differs between species and within species between populations. Because mating with kin often results in inbreeding depression, observed inbreeding is usually regarded to be caused by limited outbreeding opportunities due to demographic factors like small population size or population substructuring. However, theory predicts inclusive benefits from mating with kin, and thus part of the observed variation in inbreeding might be due to active inbreeding preferences. Although some recent studies indeed report kin mating preferences, the evidence is still highly ambiguous. Here, we investigate inbreeding in a natural population of the West African cichlid fish Pelvicachromis taeniatus which showed clear kin mating preferences in standardized laboratory experiments but no inbreeding depression. The presented microsatellite analysis reveals that the natural population has, in comparison to two reference populations, a reduced allelic diversity (A = 3) resulting in a low heterozygosity (Ho = 0.167) pointing to a highly inbred population. Furthermore, we found a significant heterozygote deficit not only at population (Fis = 0.116) but also at subpopulation level (Fis = 0.081) suggesting that inbreeding is not only a by-product of population substructuring but possibly a consequence of behavioral kin preferences.
PMCID: PMC3184091  PMID: 21980351
10.  Eusociality in African mole-rats: new insights from patterns of genetic relatedness in the Damaraland mole-rat (Cryptomys damarensis). 
After the discovery of eusociality in the naked mole-rat, it was proposed that inbreeding and high colony relatedness in this species were the major underlying factors driving cooperative breeding in African molerats. By contrast, field and laboratory studies of the eusocial Damaraland mole-rat (Cryptomys damarensis) have raised the possibility that this species is an obligate outbreeder, although the build-up of inbreeding over several generations could still occur. Using microsatellite markers, we show that most breeding pairs in wild colonies of the Damaraland mole-rat are indeed unrelated (R = 0.02 +/- 0.04) and that mean colony relatedness (R = 0.46 +/- 0.01), determined across 15 colonies from three separate populations, is little more than half that previously identified in naked mole-rats. This finding demonstrates that normal familial levels of relatedness are sufficient for the occurrence of eusociality in mammals. Variation in the mean colony relatedness among populations provides support both for the central role played by ecological constraints in cooperative breeding and for the suggestion that inbreeding in naked mole-rats is a response to extreme constraints on dispersal. Approaches that determine the relative importance of an array of extrinsic factors in driving social evolution in African mole-rats are now required.
PMCID: PMC1690998  PMID: 12028759
11.  Widespread horizontal genomic exchange does not erode species barriers among sympatric ducks 
The study of speciation and maintenance of species barriers is at the core of evolutionary biology. During speciation the genome of one population becomes separated from other populations of the same species, which may lead to genomic incompatibility with time. This separation is complete when no fertile offspring is produced from inter-population matings, which is the basis of the biological species concept. Birds, in particular ducks, are recognised as a challenging and illustrative group of higher vertebrates for speciation studies. There are many sympatric and ecologically similar duck species, among which fertile hybrids occur relatively frequently in nature, yet these species remain distinct.
We show that the degree of shared single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) between five species of dabbling ducks (genus Anas) is an order of magnitude higher than that previously reported between any pair of eukaryotic species with comparable evolutionary distances. We demonstrate that hybridisation has led to sustained exchange of genetic material between duck species on an evolutionary time scale without disintegrating species boundaries. Even though behavioural, genetic and ecological factors uphold species boundaries in ducks, we detect opposing forces allowing for viable interspecific hybrids, with long-term evolutionary implications. Based on the superspecies concept we here introduce the novel term "supra-population" to explain the persistence of SNPs identical by descent within the studied ducks despite their history as distinct species dating back millions of years.
By reviewing evidence from speciation theory, palaeogeography and palaeontology we propose a fundamentally new model of speciation to accommodate our genetic findings in dabbling ducks. This model, we argue, may also shed light on longstanding unresolved general speciation and hybridisation patterns in higher organisms, e.g. in other bird groups with unusually high hybridisation rates. Observed parallels to horizontal gene transfer in bacteria facilitate the understanding of why ducks have been such an evolutionarily successful group of animals. There is large evolutionary potential in the ability to exchange genes among species and the resulting dramatic increase of effective population size to counter selective constraints.
PMCID: PMC3364866  PMID: 22462721
12.  Secondary Sympatry Caused by Range Expansion Informs on the Dynamics of Microendemism in a Biodiversity Hotspot 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48047.
Islands are bounded areas where high endemism is explained either by allopatric speciation through the fragmentation of the limited amount of space available, or by sympatric speciation and accumulation of daughter species. Most empirical evidence point out the dominant action of allopatric speciation. We evaluate this general view by looking at a case study where sympatric speciation is suspected. We analyse the mode, tempo and geography of speciation in Agnotecous, a cricket genus endemic to New Caledonia showing a generalized pattern of sympatry between species making sympatric speciation plausible. We obtained five mitochondrial and five nuclear markers (6.8 kb) from 37 taxa corresponding to 17 of the 21 known extant species of Agnotecous, and including several localities per species, and we conducted phylogenetic and dating analyses. Our results suggest that the diversification of Agnotecous occurred mostly through allopatric speciation in the last 10 Myr. Highly microendemic species are the most recent ones (<2 Myr) and current sympatry is due to secondary range expansion after allopatric speciation. Species distribution should then be viewed as a highly dynamic process and extreme microendemism only as a temporary situation. We discuss these results considering the influence of climatic changes combined with intricate soil diversity and mountain topography. A complex interplay between these factors could have permitted repeated speciation events and range expansion.
PMCID: PMC3490955  PMID: 23139758
13.  Within-Host Speciation of Malaria Parasites 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(2):e235.
Sympatric speciation—the divergence of populations into new species in absence of geographic barriers to hybridization—is the most debated mode of diversification of life forms. Parasitic organisms are prominent models for sympatric speciation, because they may colonise new hosts within the same geographic area and diverge through host specialization. However, it has been argued that this mode of parasite divergence is not strict sympatric speciation, because host shifts likely cause the sudden effective isolation of parasites, particularly if these are transmitted by vectors and therefore cannot select their hosts. Strict sympatric speciation would involve parasite lineages diverging within a single host species, without any population subdivision.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we report a case of extraordinary divergence of sympatric, ecologically distinct, and reproductively isolated malaria parasites within a single avian host species, which apparently occurred without historical or extant subdivision of parasite or host populations.
This discovery of within-host speciation changes our current view on the diversification potential of malaria parasites, because neither geographic isolation of host populations nor colonization of new host species are any longer necessary conditions to the formation of new parasite species.
PMCID: PMC1794596  PMID: 17311104
14.  Erosive processes after tectonic uplift stimulate vicariant and adaptive speciation: evolution in an Afrotemperate-endemic paper daisy genus 
The role of tectonic uplift in stimulating speciation in South Africa’s only alpine zone, the Drakensberg, has not been explicitly examined. Tectonic processes may influence speciation both through the creation of novel habitats and by physically isolating plant populations. We use the Afrotemperate endemic daisy genus Macowania to explore the timing and mode (geographic versus adaptive) of speciation in this region. Between sister species pairs we expect high morphological divergence where speciation has happened in sympatry (adaptive) while with geographic (vicariant) speciation we may expect to find less morphological divergence and a greater degree of allopatry. A dated molecular phylogenetic hypothesis for Macowania elucidates species’ relationships and is used to address the potential impact of uplift on diversification. Morphological divergence of a small sample of reproductive and vegetative characters, used as a proxy for adaptive divergence, is measured against species’ range distributions to estimate mode of speciation across two subclades in the genus.
The Macowania crown age is consistent with the hypothesis of post-uplift diversification, and we find evidence for both vicariant and adaptive speciation between the two subclades within Macowania. Both subclades exhibit strong signals of range allopatry, suggesting that geographic isolation was important in speciation. One subclade, associated with dry, rocky environments at high altitudes, shows very little morphological and ecological differentiation but high range allopatry. The other subclade occupies a greater variety of habitats and exhibits far greater morphological differentiation, but contains species with overlapping distribution ranges.
Species in Macowania are likely to have diversified in response to tectonic uplift, and we invoke uplift and uplift-mediated erosion as the main drivers of speciation. The greater relative morphological divergence in sympatric species of Macowania indicates that speciation in the non-sympatric taxa may not have required obvious adaptive differences, implying that simple geographic isolation was the driving force for speciation (‘neutral speciation’).
PMCID: PMC3927823  PMID: 24524661
Afrotemperate; Drakensberg; Uplift; Adaptive speciation; Vicariance; Gnaphalieae
15.  A role for a neo-sex chromosome in stickleback speciation 
Nature  2009;461(7267):1079-1083.
Sexual antagonism, or conflict between the sexes, has been proposed as a driving force in both sex chromosome turnover and speciation. Although closely related species often have different sex chromosome systems, it is unknown whether sex chromosome turnover contributes to the evolution of reproductive isolation between species. In this study, we show that a newly evolved sex chromosome harbours genes that contribute to speciation in threespine stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We first identified a neo-sex chromosome system found only in one member of a sympatric species pair in Japan. We then performed genetic linkage mapping of male-specific traits important for reproductive isolation between the Japanese species pair. The neo-X chromosome harbours loci for male courtship display traits that contribute to behavioural isolation, while the ancestral X chromosome contains loci for both behavioural isolation and hybrid male sterility. Our work not only provides strong evidence for a large-X effect on reproductive isolation in a vertebrate system, but also provides direct evidence that a young neo-X chromosome contributes to reproductive isolation between closely related species. Our data suggest that sex chromosome turnover might play a greater role in speciation than previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC2776091  PMID: 19783981
16.  The kin structure of sexual interactions 
Biology Letters  2009;5(5):689-692.
The origin of sexual reproduction involved the evolution of zygotes from separate genomes and, like other social processes, should therefore be amenable to analysis using kin selection theory. I consider how kin structure affects sexual interactions in three contexts—the evolution of sexual reproduction, sex allocation and sexual conflict. Kin structure helps explain the even-handed replication of paternal and maternal genes under outbreeding. Under inbreeding, it predicts altruistic failure to replicate by one half of the diploid genome. Kin structure predicts optimal sex ratios and potential conflicts over sex ratio within social groups and individuals. Sexual conflict predictably occurs as a function of (i) the probability that current sexual partners will reproduce together in future and (ii) between-partner relatedness. I conclude that systematically analysing the kin structure of sexual interactions helps illuminate their evolution.
PMCID: PMC2781946  PMID: 19443503
evolution of sex; kin selection; relatedness; sex allocation; sex ratio; sexual conflict
17.  Isolation-by-Distance and Outbreeding Depression Are Sufficient to Drive Parapatric Speciation in the Absence of Environmental Influences 
PLoS Computational Biology  2008;4(7):e1000126.
A commonly held view in evolutionary biology is that speciation (the emergence of genetically distinct and reproductively incompatible subpopulations) is driven by external environmental constraints, such as localized barriers to dispersal or habitat-based variation in selection pressures. We have developed a spatially explicit model of a biological population to study the emergence of spatial and temporal patterns of genetic diversity in the absence of predetermined subpopulation boundaries. We propose a 2-D cellular automata model showing that an initially homogeneous population might spontaneously subdivide into reproductively incompatible species through sheer isolation-by-distance when the viability of offspring decreases as the genomes of parental gametes become increasingly different. This simple implementation of the Dobzhansky-Muller model provides the basis for assessing the process and completion of speciation, which is deemed to occur when there is complete postzygotic isolation between two subpopulations. The model shows an inherent tendency toward spatial self-organization, as has been the case with other spatially explicit models of evolution. A well-mixed version of the model exhibits a relatively stable and unimodal distribution of genetic differences as has been shown with previous models. A much more interesting pattern of temporal waves, however, emerges when the dispersal of individuals is limited to short distances. Each wave represents a subset of comparisons between members of emergent subpopulations diverging from one another, and a subset of these divergences proceeds to the point of speciation. The long-term persistence of diverging subpopulations is the essence of speciation in biological populations, so the rhythmic diversity waves that we have observed suggest an inherent disposition for a population experiencing isolation-by-distance to generate new species.
Author Summary
A commonly held view in evolutionary biology is that new species form in response to environmental factors, such as habitat differences or barriers to individual movements that sever a population. We have developed a computer model, called EvoSpace, that illustrates how new species can emerge when a species range becomes very large compared with the dispersal distances of its individuals. This situation has been called isolation-by-distance because remote parts of the range can take different evolutionary paths even though there is no particular place where we would expect different populations to separate. When the extent of genetic difference between individuals is coupled with decreasing offspring viability (e.g., resulting from developmental problems), EvoSpace predicts that sharp spatial boundaries can emerge in arbitrary locations, separating subpopulations that occasionally persist long enough to become reproductively incompatible species. The model shows an inherent tendency toward spatial self-organization, in contrast with the traditional view of environmentally forced origins of new species. We think that isolation-by-distance is a common aspect of the evolutionary process and that spatial self-organization of gene pools may often facilitate the evolution of new species.
PMCID: PMC2440541  PMID: 18654617
18.  Hitchhiking to Speciation 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(2):e1001498.
The modern evolutionary synthesis codified the idea that species exist as distinct entities because intrinsic reproductive barriers prevent them from merging together. Understanding the origin of species therefore requires understanding the evolution and genetics of reproductive barriers between species. In most cases, speciation is an accident that happens as different populations adapt to different environments and, incidentally, come to differ in ways that render them reproductively incompatible. As with other reproductive barriers, the evolution and genetics of interspecific hybrid sterility and lethality were once also thought to evolve as pleiotripic side effects of adaptation. Recent work on the molecular genetics of speciation has raised an altogether different possibility—the genes that cause hybrid sterility and lethality often come to differ between species not because of adaptation to the external ecological environment but because of internal evolutionary arms races between selfish genetic elements and the genes of the host genome. Arguably one of the best examples supporting a role of ecological adaptation comes from a population of yellow monkey flowers, Mimulus guttatus, in Copperopolis, California, which recently evolved tolerance to soil contaminants from copper mines and simultaneously, as an incidental by-product, hybrid lethality in crosses with some off-mine populations. However, in new work, Wright and colleagues show that hybrid lethality is not a pleiotropic consequence of copper tolerance. Rather, the genetic factor causing hybrid lethality is tightly linked to copper tolerance and spread to fixation in Copperopolis by genetic hitchhiking.
PMCID: PMC3582502  PMID: 23468596
19.  Speciation along a depth gradient in a marine adaptive radiation 
Oceans are home to much of the world's biodiversity, but we know little about the processes driving speciation in marine ecosystems with few geographical barriers to gene flow. Ecological speciation resulting from divergent natural selection between ecological niches can occur in the face of gene flow. Sister species in the young and ecologically diverse rockfish genus Sebastes coexist in the northeast Pacific, implying that speciation may not require geographical isolation. Here, I use a novel phylogenetic comparative analysis to show that rockfish speciation is instead associated with divergence in habitat depth and depth-associated morphology, consistent with models of parapatric speciation. Using the same analysis, I find no support for alternative hypotheses that speciation involves divergence in diet or life history, or that speciation involves geographic isolation by latitude. These findings support the hypothesis that rockfishes undergo ecological speciation on an environmental gradient.
PMCID: PMC3025674  PMID: 20810434
α-niche; β-niche; ecological speciation; parapatric speciation; rockfish
20.  The roles of time and ecology in the continental radiation of the Old World leaf warblers (Phylloscopus and Seicercus) 
Many continental sister species are allopatric or parapatric, ecologically similar and long separated, of the order of millions of years. Sympatric, ecologically differentiated, species, are often even older. This raises the question of whether build-up of sympatric diversity generally follows a slow process of divergence in allopatry, initially without much ecological change. I review patterns of speciation among birds belonging to the continental Eurasian Old World leaf warblers (Phylloscopus and Seicercus). I consider speciation to be a three-stage process (range expansions, barriers to gene flow, reproductive isolation) and ask how ecological factors at each stage have contributed to speciation, both among allopatric/parapatric sister species and among those lineages that eventually led to currently sympatric species. I suggest that time is probably the critical factor that leads to reproductive isolation between sympatric species and that a strong connection between ecological divergence and reproductive isolation remains to be established. Besides reproductive isolation, ecological factors can affect range expansions (e.g. habitat tracking) and the formation of barriers (e.g. treeless areas are effective barriers for warblers). Ecological factors may often limit speciation on continents because range expansions are difficult in ‘ecologically full’ environments.
PMCID: PMC2871886  PMID: 20439279
allospecies; ecological speciation; Phylloscopus and Seicercus; speciation; time-dated phylogenies; vicariance
21.  Fertilisation and early developmental barriers to hybridisation in field crickets 
Post-mating interactions between the reproductive traits and gametes of mating individuals and among their genes within zygotes are invariably complex, providing multiple opportunities for reproduction to go awry. These interactions have the potential to act as barriers to gene flow between species, and may be important in the process of speciation. There are multiple post-mating barriers to interbreeding between the hybridising field crickets Gryllus bimaculatus and G. campestris. Female G. bimaculatus preferentially store sperm from conspecific males when mated to both conspecific and heterospecific partners. Additionally, conspecific males sire an even greater proportion of offspring than would be predicted from their sperm’s representation in the spermatheca. The nature of these post-sperm-storage barriers to hybridisation are unknown. We use a fluorescent staining technique to determine whether barriers occur prior to, or during embryo development.
We show that eggs laid by G. bimaculatus females mated to G. campestris males are less likely to begin embryogenesis than eggs from conspecific mating pairs. Of the eggs that are successfully fertilised and start to develop, those from heterospecific mating pairs are more likely to arrest early, prior to blastoderm formation. We find evidence for bimodal variation among egg clutches in the number of developing embryos that subsequently arrest, indicating that there is genetic variation for incompatibility between mating individuals. In contrast to the pattern of early embryonic mortality, those hybrids reaching advanced stages of embryogenesis have survival rates equal to that of embryos from conspecific mating pairs.
Post-sperm-storage barriers to hybridisation show evidence of genetic polymorphism. They are sufficiently large, that if the species interbreed where they are sympatric, these barriers could play a role in the maintenance of reproductive isolation between them. The number of eggs that fail to develop represents a substantial cost of hybridization to G. bimaculatus females, and this cost could reinforce the evolution of barriers occurring earlier in the reproductive process.
PMCID: PMC3610257  PMID: 23410054
Speciation; Reproductive isolation; Hybrid; Fertilisation; Embryogenesis; Gryllus; Variable reproductive isolation; Polymorphism
22.  Testing comparative phylogeographic models of marine vicariance and dispersal using a hierarchical Bayesian approach 
Marine allopatric speciation is an enigma because pelagic larval dispersal can potentially connect disjunct populations thereby preventing reproductive and morphological divergence. Here we present a new hierarchical approximate Bayesian computation model (HABC) that tests two hypotheses of marine allopatric speciation: 1.) "soft vicariance", where a speciation involves fragmentation of a large widespread ancestral species range that was previously connected by long distance gene flow; and 2.) peripatric colonization, where speciations in peripheral archipelagos emerge from sweepstakes colonizations from central source regions. The HABC approach analyzes all the phylogeographic datasets at once in order to make across taxon-pair inferences about biogeographic processes while explicitly allowing for uncertainty in the demographic differences within each taxon-pair. Our method uses comparative phylogeographic data that consists of single locus mtDNA sequences from multiple co-distributed taxa containing pairs of central and peripheral populations. We use the method on two comparative phylogeographic data sets consisting of cowrie gastropod endemics co-distributed in the Hawaiian (11 taxon-pairs) and Marquesan archipelagos (7 taxon-pairs).
Given the Marquesan data, we find strong evidence of simultaneous colonization across all seven cowrie gastropod endemics co-distributed in the Marquesas. In contrast, the lower sample sizes in the Hawaiian data lead to greater uncertainty associated with the Hawaiian estimates. Although, the hyper-parameter estimates point to soft vicariance in a subset of the 11 Hawaiian taxon-pairs, the hyper-prior and hyper-posterior are too similar to make a definitive conclusion. Both results are not inconsistent with what is known about the geologic history of the archipelagos. Simulations verify that our method can successfully distinguish these two histories across a wide range of conditions given sufficient sampling.
Although soft vicariance and colonization are likely to produce similar genetic patterns when a single taxon-pair is used, our hierarchical Bayesian model can potentially detect if either history is a dominant process across co-distributed taxon-pairs. As comparative phylogeographic datasets grow to include > 100 co-distributed taxon-pairs, the HABC approach will be well suited to dissect temporal patterns in community assembly and evolution, thereby providing a bridge linking comparative phylogeography with community ecology.
PMCID: PMC2614435  PMID: 19038027
23.  Inbreeding depression and outbreeding depression are evident in wildtype zebrafish lines 
Zebrafish  2010;7(2):189-197.
Maintaining wildtype zebrafish stocks for research while preserving viability within the lines used presents significant challenges to zebrafish husbandry practices. Genetic homogeneity is established through inbreeding in order to provide continuity across experiments. This, however, leads to decreased fitness through inbreeding depression. In the laboratory setting, it is imperative that researchers consistently obtain a large number of viable embryos, thus, inbreeding depression must be suppressed. Genetic variation can be established by creating hybrid lines, however, crosses between genetically distinct lines can cause an outbreeding depression as well. There is little data describing the effects of inbreeding depression or outbreeding depression from such crosses in zebrafish. Additionally, there is an unmet need to establish breeding standards within the zebrafish field. This study examines the susceptibility to inbreeding and outbreeding depression in crosses between four wildtype zebrafish lines: the inbred lines AB and Tab14 and the F1 generation of hybrid lines TuAB and TLAB. We report that mating frequency and clutch size were significantly greater in hybrid female crosses than inbred female crosses. This study demonstrates that inbreeding depression in common zebrafish lines such as the AB and Tab14 used here, results in fewer successful matings and smaller clutch sizes. Furthermore, we find evidence that outbreeding depression caused by crossing distantly related lines, such as the inbred Tab14 and the hybrid TLAB lines can also influence successful zebrafish mating. These data provide evidence needed to further characterize commonly used wildtype zebrafish lines. We suggest, that to maintain lines that mate frequently and yield large clutches, hybrid females of known backgrounds should be used.
PMCID: PMC2946628  PMID: 20438386
24.  Inbreeding Depression and Outbreeding Depression Are Evident in Wild-Type Zebrafish Lines 
Zebrafish  2010;7(2):189-197.
Maintaining wild-type (WT) zebrafish stocks for research while preserving viability within the lines used presents significant challenges to zebrafish husbandry practices. Genetic homogeneity is established through inbreeding to provide continuity across experiments. This, however, leads to decreased fitness through inbreeding depression. In the laboratory setting, it is imperative that researchers consistently obtain a large number of viable embryos; thus, inbreeding depression must be suppressed. Genetic variation can be established by creating hybrid lines; however, crosses between genetically distinct lines can cause an outbreeding depression as well. There is little data describing the effects of inbreeding depression or outbreeding depression from such crosses in zebrafish. Additionally, there is a need to establish breeding standards within the zebrafish field. This study examines the susceptibility to inbreeding and outbreeding depression in crosses between four WT zebrafish lines: the inbred lines AB and Tab 14, and the F1 generation of hybrid lines TuAB and TLAB. We report that mating frequency and clutch size were significantly greater in hybrid female crosses than in inbred female crosses. Inbreeding depression in common zebrafish lines such as AB and Tab 14 used here results in fewer successful matings and smaller clutch sizes. Further, outbreeding depression caused by crossing distantly related lines, such as the inbred Tab 14 and the hybrid TLAB lines, can also influence successful zebrafish mating. These data provide evidence needed to further characterize commonly used WT zebrafish lines. We suggest that to maintain lines that mate frequently and yield large clutches, hybrid females of known backgrounds should be used.
PMCID: PMC2946628  PMID: 20438386
Journal of mammalogy  2006;87(4):643-662.
We define a genetic species as a group of genetically compatible interbreeding natural populations that is genetically isolated from other such groups. This focus on genetic isolation rather than reproductive isolation distinguishes the Genetic Species Concept from the Biological Species Concept. Recognition of species that are genetically isolated (but not reproductively isolated) results in an enhanced understanding of biodiversity and the nature of speciation as well as speciation-based issues and evolution of mammals. We review criteria and methods for recognizing species of mammals and explore a theoretical scenario, the Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller (BDM) model, for understanding and predicting genetic diversity and speciation in mammals. If the BDM model is operating in mammals, then genetically defined phylogroups would be predicted to occur within species defined by morphology, and phylogroups experiencing stabilizing selection will evolve genetic isolation without concomitant morphological diversification. Such species will be undetectable using classical skin and skull morphology (Morphological Species Concept). Using cytochrome-b data from sister species of mammals recognized by classical morphological studies, we estimated the number of phylogroups that exist within mammalian species and hypothesize that there will be >2,000 currently unrecognized species of mammals. Such an underestimation significantly affects conclusions on the nature of speciation in mammals, barriers associated with evolution of genetic isolation, estimates of biodiversity, design of conservation initiatives, zoonoses, and so on. A paradigm shift relative to this and other speciation-based issues will be needed. Data that will be effective in detecting these “morphologically cryptic genetic species” are genetic, especially DNA-sequence data. Application of the Genetic Species Concept uses genetic data from mitochondrial and nuclear genomes to identify species and species boundaries, the extent to which the integrity of the gene pool is protected, nature of hybridization (if present), and introgression. Genetic data are unique in understanding species because the use of genetic data 1) can quantify genetic divergence from different aspects of the genome (mitochondrial and nuclear genes, protein coding genes, regulatory genes, mobile DNA, microsatellites, chromosomal rearrangements, heterochromatin, etc.); 2) can provide divergence values that increase with time, providing an estimate of time since divergence; 3) can provide a population genetics perspective; 4) is less subject to convergence and parallelism relative to other sets of characters; 5) can identify monophyly, sister taxa, and presence or absence of introgression; and 6) can accurately identify hybrid individuals (kinship and source of hybrid individuals, F1s, backcrosses, direction of hybridization, and in concert with other data identify which hybrids are sterile or fertile). The proposed definition of the Genetic Species Concept is more compatible with a description of biodiversity of mammals than is “reproductively isolated species.” Genetic profiles of mammalian species will result in a genetic description of species and mammalian diversity, and such studies are being accelerated by technological advances that reduce cost and increase speed and efficiency of generating genetic data. We propose that this genetic revolution remain museum- and voucher specimen–based and that new names are based on a holotype (including associated tissues) deposited in an accredited museum.
PMCID: PMC2771874  PMID: 19890476
Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller model; cryptic species; cytochrome b; genetic isolation; Genetic Species Concept; hybrid zones; phylogroups; reproductive isolation; speciation in mammals

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