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J Hered. 2014;105 Suppl 1:743-55. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esu045.

Models of speciation: where are we now?

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From the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996 (Gavrilets); the Department of Mathematics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996 (Gavrilets); and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996 (Gavrilets).


Theory building is an integral part of biological research, in general, and of speciation research, in particular. Here, I review the modeling work on speciation done in the last 10 years or so, assessing the progress made and identifying areas where additional effort is required. Specific topics considered include evolutionary dynamics of genetic incompatibilities, spatial and temporal patterns of speciation, links to neutral theory of biodiversity, effects of multidimensionality of phenotype, sympatric and parapatric speciation, adaptive radiation, speciation by sexual conflict, and models tailored for specific biological systems. Particularly challenging questions for future theoretical research identified here are 1) incorporating gene regulatory networks in models describing accumulation of genetic incompatibilities; 2) integrating models of community ecology with those developed in speciation theory; 3) building models providing better insights on the dynamics of parapatric speciation; 4) modeling speciation in multidimensional ecological niches with mating preferences based on multidimensional mating cues and sexual characters; 5) linking microevolutionary processes with macroevolutionary patterns as observed in adaptive radiations and paleontological record; 6) modeling speciation in specific systems studied by empirical biologists; and 7) modeling human origins. The insights from dynamic models of speciation should be useful in developing statistical tools that would enable empiricists to infer the history of past evolutionary divergence and speciation from genomic data.


diversification; mathematical modeling; patterns; speciation

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