NewsEvolution

Ecology Returns to Speciation Studies

Science  25 Jun 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5423, pp. 2106-2108
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5423.2106

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Summary

Darwin paid close attention to the details of natural history, but for over 2 decades, ecology has been out of favor among evolutionists, as researchers have used genetic techniques to focus on relationships among species. Now, scientists probing the mechanics of how one species splits into two are going back to basics, taking copious notes on such things as the number of predators lizards face in different forests and the angle at which bottom-dwelling fish feed. The approach has led to some sophisticated and surprising science--and revived an old idea: the ecological speciation model, in which different ecological pressures favor changes in body shape and function that eventually make populations unable or unwilling to mate with each other.

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