Parapatric speciation

A diagram representing population subject to a selective gradient of phenotypic or genotypic frequencies (a cline). Each end of the gradient experiences different selective conditions (divergent selection). Reproductive isolation occurs upon the formation of a hybrid zone. In most cases, the hybrid zone may become eliminated due to a selective disadvantage. This effectively completes the speciation process.

In parapatric speciation, two subpopulations of a species evolve reproductive isolation from one another while continuing to exchange genes. This mode of speciation has three distinguishing characteristics: 1) mating occurs non-randomly, 2) gene flow occurs unequally, and 3) populations exist in either continuous or discontinuous geographic ranges. This distribution pattern may be the result of unequal dispersal, incomplete geographical barriers, or divergent expressions of behavior, among other things. Parapatric speciation predicts that hybrid zones will often exist at the junction between the two populations.

In biogeography, the terms parapatric and parapatry are often used to describe the relationship between organisms whose ranges do not significantly overlap but are immediately adjacent to each other; they do not occur together except in a narrow contact zone. Parapatry is a geographical distribution opposed to sympatry (same area) and allopatry or peripatry (two similar cases of distinct areas).

Various "forms" of parapatry have been proposed and are discussed below. Coyne and Orr in Speciation categorise these forms into three groups: clinal (environmental gradients), "stepping-stone" (discrete populations), and stasipatric speciation in concordance with most of the parapatric speciation literature.[1]: 111  Henceforth, the models are subdivided following a similar format.

Charles Darwin was the first to propose this mode of speciation. It was not until 1930, when Ronald Fisher published The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection where he outlined a verbal theoretical model of clinal speciation. In 1981, Joseph Felsenstein proposed an alternative, "discrete population" model (the "stepping-stone model). Since Darwin, a great deal of research has been conducted on parapatric speciation—concluding that its mechanisms are theoretically plausible, "and has most certainly occurred in nature".[1]: 124 

  1. ^ a b Jerry A. Coyne; H. Allen Orr (2004), Speciation, Sinauer Associates, pp. 1–545, ISBN 978-0-87893-091-3

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