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Am Nat. 2012 Jan;179(1):1-21. doi: 10.1086/663202. Epub 2011 Nov 30.

Patterns of species ranges, speciation, and extinction.

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Department of Biology, Middle East Technical University, Dumlupinar Bulvari, No. 1, 06800 Cankaya Ankara, Turkey.


The exact nature of the relationship among species range sizes, speciation, and extinction events is not well understood. The factors that promote larger ranges, such as broad niche widths and high dispersal abilities, could increase the likelihood of encountering new habitats but also prevent local adaptation due to high gene flow. Similarly, low dispersal abilities or narrower niche widths could cause populations to be isolated, but such populations may lack advantageous mutations due to low population sizes. Here we present a large-scale, spatially explicit, individual-based model addressing the relationships between species ranges, speciation, and extinction. We followed the evolutionary dynamics of hundreds of thousands of diploid individuals for 200,000 generations. Individuals adapted to multiple resources and formed ecological species in a multidimensional trait space. These species varied in niche widths, and we observed the coexistence of generalists and specialists on a few resources. Our model shows that species ranges correlate with dispersal abilities but do not change with the strength of fitness trade-offs; however, high dispersal abilities and low resource utilization costs, which favored broad niche widths, have a strong negative effect on speciation rates. An unexpected result of our model is the strong effect of underlying resource distributions on speciation: in highly fragmented landscapes, speciation rates are reduced.

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