Sympatric speciation in birds is rare: Insights from range data and simulations

Albert B. Phillimore, C. David L. Orme, Gavin H. Thomas, Tim M. Blackburn, Peter M. Bennett, Kevin J. Gaston, Ian P. F. Owens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sympatric speciation is now accepted as theoretically plausible and a likely explanation for divergence in a handful of taxa, but its contribution to large-scale patterns of speciation remains contentious. A major problem is that it is difficult to differentiate between alternate scenarios of geographic speciation when species ranges have shifted substantially in the past. Previous studies have searched for a signal of the geographic mode of speciation by testing for a correlation between time since speciation and range overlap. Here we use simulations to show that the proportion of species showing zero or complete range overlap are more reliable indicators of the geography of speciation than is the correlation between time since speciation and overlap. We then apply these findings to the distributions of 291 pairs of avian sister species. Although 49% of pairs show some overlap in their ranges, our simulations show that this is not surprising under allopatric models of speciation. More revealingly, less than 2% show complete range overlap. Our simulations demonstrate that the observed patterns are most consistent with a model in which allopatric speciation is dominant but in which sympatric speciation is also present and contributes 5% of speciation events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-657
Number of pages12
JournalThe American Naturalist
Volume171
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

Keywords

  • speciation
  • allopatric
  • sympatric
  • geographic range
  • birds
  • phylogeny
  • SPECIES-LEVEL PHYLOGENIES
  • ALLOPATRIC SPECIATION
  • GEOGRAPHICAL PATTERN
  • SEQUENCE ALIGNMENT
  • STORM-PETREL
  • EVOLUTION
  • MODES
  • DIVERSIFICATION
  • DIFFERENTIATION
  • POPULATIONS

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Sympatric speciation in birds is rare: Insights from range data and simulations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this