Defining the speciation continuum

Stankowski S, Ravinet M. 2021. Defining the speciation continuum. Evolution. 75(6), 1256–1273.

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Journal Article | Published | English

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Stankowski, SeanISTA; Ravinet, Mark
A primary roadblock to our understanding of speciation is that it usually occurs over a timeframe that is too long to study from start to finish. The idea of a speciation continuum provides something of a solution to this problem; rather than observing the entire process, we can simply reconstruct it from the multitude of speciation events that surround us. But what do we really mean when we talk about the speciation continuum, and can it really help us understand speciation? We explored these questions using a literature review and online survey of speciation researchers. Although most researchers were familiar with the concept and thought it was useful, our survey revealed extensive disagreement about what the speciation continuum actually tells us. This is due partly to the lack of a clear definition. Here, we provide an explicit definition that is compatible with the Biological Species Concept. That is, the speciation continuum is a continuum of reproductive isolation. After outlining the logic of the definition in light of alternatives, we explain why attempts to reconstruct the speciation process from present‐day populations will ultimately fail. We then outline how we think the speciation continuum concept can continue to act as a foundation for understanding the continuum of reproductive isolation that surrounds us.
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We thank M. Garlovsky, S. Martin, C. Cooney, C. Roux, J. Larson, and J. Mallet for critical feedback and for discussion. K. Lohse, M. de la Cámara, J. Cerca, M. A. Chase, C. Baskett, A. M. Westram, and N. H. Barton gave feedback on a draft of the manuscript. O. Seehausen, two anonymous reviewers, and the AE (Michael Kopp) provided comments that greatly improved the manuscript. V. Holzmann made many corrections to the proofs. G. Bisschop and K. Lohse kindly contributed the simulations and analyses presented in Box 3. We would also like to extend our thanks to everyone who took part in the speciation survey, which received ethical approval through the University of Sheffield Ethics Review Procedure (Application 029768). We are especially grateful to R. K. Butlin for stimulating discussion throughout the writing of the manuscript and for feedback on an earlier draft.

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Stankowski S, Ravinet M. Defining the speciation continuum. Evolution. 2021;75(6):1256-1273. doi:10.1111/evo.14215
Stankowski, S., & Ravinet, M. (2021). Defining the speciation continuum. Evolution.
Stankowski, Sean, and Mark Ravinet. “Defining the Speciation Continuum.” Evolution, 2021.
S. Stankowski and M. Ravinet, “Defining the speciation continuum,” Evolution, vol. 75, no. 6. pp. 1256–1273, 2021.
Stankowski S, Ravinet M. 2021. Defining the speciation continuum. Evolution. 75(6), 1256–1273.
Stankowski, Sean, and Mark Ravinet. “Defining the Speciation Continuum.” Evolution, vol. 75, no. 6, 2021, pp. 1256–73, doi:10.1111/evo.14215.
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