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Trends Ecol Evol. 2001 Jul 1;16(7):372-380.

Ecology and the origin of species.


The ecological hypothesis of speciation is that reproductive isolation evolves ultimately as a consequence of divergent natural selection on traits between environments. Ecological speciation is general and might occur in allopatry or sympatry, involve many agents of natural selection, and result from a combination of adaptive processes. The main difficulty of the ecological hypothesis has been the scarcity of examples from nature, but several potential cases have recently emerged. I review the mechanisms that give rise to new species by divergent selection, compare ecological speciation with its alternatives, summarize recent tests in nature, and highlight areas requiring research.

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