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Mol Ecol. 2010 Nov;19(22):4837-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04832.x. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Ancient lakes revisited: from the ecology to the genetics of speciation.

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Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON N9B 3P4, Canada.


Explosive speciation in ancient lakes has fascinated biologists for centuries and has inspired classical work on the tempo and modes of speciation. Considerable attention has been directed towards the extrinsic forces of speciation--the geological, geographical and ecological peculiarities of ancient lakes. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the intrinsic nature of these radiations, the biological characteristics conducive to speciation. While new species are thought to arise mainly by the gradual enhancement of reproductive isolation among geographically isolated populations, ancient lakes provide little evidence for a predominant role of geography in speciation. Recent phylogenetic work provides strong evidence that multiple colonization waves were followed by parallel intralacustrine radiations that proceeded at relatively rapid rates despite long-term gene flow through hybridization and introgression. Several studies suggest that hybridization itself might act as a key evolutionary mechanism by triggering major genomic reorganization/revolution and enabling the colonization of new ecological niches in ancient lakes. These studies propose that hybridization is not only of little impediment to diversification but could act as an important force in facilitating habitat transitions, promoting postcolonization adaptations and accelerating diversification. Emerging ecological genomic approaches are beginning to shed light on the long-standing evolutionary dilemma of speciation in the face of gene flow. We propose an integrative programme for future studies on speciation in ancient lakes.

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