Sympatric speciation

Sympatric speciation

Sympatric speciation is the genetic divergence of various populations (from a single parent species) inhabiting the same geographic region, such that those populations become different species. Etymologically, sympatry is derived from the roots sym- (meaning same, alike, similar, or fellow) and -patry (meaning homeland or fatherland).

Sympatry is one of four theoretical models for the phenomenon of speciation. In contrast to allopatry, populations undergoing sympatric speciation are not geographically isolated by, for example, a mountain or a river.

Debated almost since the beginning of popular evolutionary thought, sympatric speciation is still a highly contentious issue. By 1980 the theory was largely unfavourable given the void of empirical evidence available, and more critically the conditions scientists expect to be required. Ernst Mayr, one of the foremost thinkers on evolution, completely rejected sympatry outright, ushering in a climate of hostility towards the theory. Since the 1980s, a more progressive ideology has been adopted. While still debatable, well documented empirical evidence now exists, and the development of sophisticated theories incorporating multilocus genetics have followed.

At least one recent study, though, provides evidence that sympatric speciation has occurred in Tennessee cave salamanders. [cite journal|title= Recent divergence with gene flow in Tennessee cave salamanders (Plethodontidae: Gyrinophilus) inferred from gene genealogies |author= MATTHEW L. NIEMILLER, BENJAMIN M. FITZPATRICK, BRIAN T. MILLER |journal= Molecular Ecology |volume=17 (9)|year=2008|pages=2258–2275 [ available online] ]

A number of models have been proposed to account for this mode of speciation. The most popular, which invokes the disruptive selection model, was first put forward by John Maynard Smith in 1962. Maynard Smith suggested that homozygous individuals may, under particular environmental conditions, have a greater fitness than those with alleles heterozygous for a certain trait. Under the mechanism of natural selection, therefore, homozygosity would be favoured over heterozygosity, eventually leading to speciation. Sympatric divergence could also result from the sexual conflict [Thierry Lodé "La guerre des sexes chez les animaux" Eds O Jacob, Paris, 2006] .

Disruption may also occur in multiple-gene traits. The Medium Ground Finch ("Geospiza fortis") is showing gene pool divergence in a population on Santa Cruz Island. Beak morphology conforms to two different size ideals, while intermediate individuals are selected against. Some characteristics (termed magic traits) such as beak morphology may drive speciation because they also affect mating signals. In this case, different beak phenotypes may result in different bird calls, providing a barrier to exchange between the gene pools. [*Harvard reference
Surname1= Huber
Given1= S.K.
Surname2= De León
Given2= L.F.
Surname3= Hendry
Given3= A.P.
Year= 2007
Title= Reproductive isolation of sympatric morphs in a population of Darwin's finches
Journal= Proc. Biol. Sci.
ID = PMID 17504742

"Rhagoletis pomonella", the apple maggot, may be currently undergoing sympatric or, more precisely, heteropatric (see heteropatry) speciation. The apple feeding race of this species appears to have spontaneously emerged from the hawthorn feeding race in the 1800 - 1850 AD time frame, after apples were first introduced into North America. The apple feeding race does not now normally feed on hawthorns, and the hawthorn feeding race does not now normally feed on apples. This may be an early step towards the emergence of a new species. [ [ McPheron et al. 1988. "Nature" 336:64-66] ] [ [ Smith, D.C. 1988. "Nature" 336:66-67] ] [ [ Feder et al. 1988. "Nature" 336:61-64] ] [Sympatric speciation in Nicaraguan crater lake cichlid fish. By: Barluenga, Marta; Stölting, Kai N.; Salzburger, Walter; Muschick, Moritz; Meyer, Axel. Nature, 2/9/2006, Vol. 439 Issue 7077, p719-723.]

Allochrony offers some empirical evidence that sympatric speciation has taken place, as many examples exist of recently diverged (sister taxa) allochronic species.

Sympatric speciation events are vastly more common in plants, as they are prone to developing multiple homologous sets of chromosomes, resulting in a condition called polyploidy. The polyploidal offspring occupy the same environment as the parent plants (hence sympatry), but are reproductively isolated.

A rare example of sympatric speciation in animals is the divergence of "resident" and "transient" Orca forms in the northeast Pacific [ [ Burden et al.: Resident And Transient-Type Killer Wales SC/56/SM15.] ] . Resident and transient orcas inhabit the same waters, but avoid each other and do not interbreed. The two forms hunt different prey species and have different diets, vocal behaviour, and social structures. Some divergences between species could also result from contrasts in microhabitats. The polecat "Mustela putorius" exhibited a rare dark phenotype similar to the European mink "Mustela lutreola" phenotype which is directely influenced by peculiarities of forest brooks [Thierry Lodé "Genetic divergence without spatial isolation in polecat Mustelaputorius populations". J Evol Biol 14:228-236, 2001] .

ee also

*Adaptive radiation
*Hybrid speciation
*Wallace effect


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  • sympatric speciation — sympatric speciation. См. симпатрическое видообразование. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • sympatric speciation — Speciation with geographic isolation; the reproductive isolation occurring between segments of a single population …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • sympatric speciation —   Differentiation and attainment of reproductive isolation of populations that are not geographically separated and which overlap in their distributions.   Cf. allopatric speciation …   Expanded glossary of Cycad terms

  • sympatric speciation — The evolution of new species by populations that inhabit the same or overlapping geographic regions …   Glossary of Biotechnology

  • Speciation — Part of a series on Evolutionary Biology …   Wikipedia

  • sympatric — adjective Etymology: syn + Greek patra fatherland, from patēr father more at father Date: circa 1904 1. occurring in the same area 2. occupying the same geographical range without loss of identity from interbreeding < sympatric species >; also… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • speciation — n. [L. species, kind] The division of a phyletic line; the process of species multiplication; the origin of discontinuities between populations resulting from the development of reproductive isolating mechanisms; see allopatry, sympatric… …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • sympatric — adjective (of biological species or speciation) occurring in the same or overlapping geographical areas • Ant: ↑allopatric • Derivationally related forms: ↑sympatry • Topics: ↑biology, ↑biological science …   Useful english dictionary

  • Heteropatric speciation — is a special case of sympatric speciation that occurs when different ecotypes or races of the same species geographically coexist but exploit different niches in the same patchy or heterogeneous environment. Thus heteropatric speciation is a… …   Wikipedia

  • Allopatric speciation — Allopatric speciation, also known as geographic speciation, is the phenomenon whereby biological populations are physically isolated by an extrinsic barrier and evolve intrinsic (genetic) reproductive isolation, such that if the barrier breaks… …   Wikipedia

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