Rapid parapatric speciation on holey adaptive landscapes

Sergey Gavrilets, Li Hai, Michael D. Vose

Abstract

A classical view of speciation is that reproductive isolation arises as a by–product of genetic divergence. Here, individual–based simulations are used to evaluate whether the mechanisms implied by this view may result in rapid speciation if the only source of genetic divergence are mutation and random genetic drift. Distinctive features of the simulations are the consideration of the complete process of speciation (from initiation until completion), and of a large number of loci, which was only one order of magnitude smaller than that of bacteria. It is demonstrated that rapid speciation on the time–scale of hundreds of generations is plausible without the need for extreme founder events, complete geographic isolation, the existence of distinct adaptive peaks or selection for local adaptation. The plausibility of speciation is enhanced by population subdivision. Simultaneous emergence of more than two new species from a subdivided population is highly probable. Numerical examples relevant to the theory of centrifugal speciation and to the conjectures about the fate of ‘ring species’ and ‘sexual continuums’ are presented.