The origin of biological diversity, via the formation of new species, can be inextricably linked to adaptation to the ecological environment. Specifically, ecological processes are central to the formation of new species when barriers to gene flow (reproductive isolation) evolve between populations as a result of ecologically-based divergent natural selection. This process of 'ecological speciation' has seen a large body of particularly focused research in the last 10-15 years, and a review and synthesis of the theoretical and empirical literature is now timely.
Ecological Speciation begins by clarifying what ecological speciation is, its alternatives, and the predictions that can be used to test for it. It then reviews the three components of ecological speciation and discusses the geography and genomic basis of the process. A final chapter highlights future research directions, describing the approaches and experiments which might be used to conduct that future work. The ecological and genetic literature is integrated throughout the text with the goal of shedding new insight into the speciation process, particularly when the empirical data is then further integrated with theory.
Part I: Ecological speciation and its alternatives
1: What is ecological speciation?
2: Predictions and tests of ecological speciation
Part II: Components of ecological speciation
3: A source of divergent selection
4: A form of reproductive isolation
5: A genetic mechanism to link selection to reproductive isolation
Part III: Unresolved issues
6: The geography of ecological speciation
7: The genomics of ecological speciation
8: The speciation continuum: what factors affect how far speciation proceeds?
9: Conclusions and future directions
Patrik Nosil is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research focuses on how new species form. His initial work on how new species of insects might form as they adapt to feeding on different types of host plants received wide-recognition, for example earning him the Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution. More recently, he has been employing a combination of both theoretical and empirical approaches to study the types of genetic changes that occur in the genome as new species are formed.