SPECIATION

Not a panacea

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Science  17 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6232, pp. 299
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6232.299-g

Though morphologically distinct, the three species of Holarctic redpolls, including this hoary redpoll, display almost no genetic divergence

CREDIT: © ALL CANADA PHOTOS/ALAMY

Emerging genetic technologies, such as single-nucleotide anonymous markers (SNPs), have provided incredible insight about speciation. Mason and Taylor used hundreds of thousands of SNPs in conjunction with gene expression and niche modeling to define patterns of speciation in the Holarctic redpoll species flock, which consists of three morphologically distinct species in the genus Acanthis. Despite the large number of loci, they found almost no genetic divergence among the three species, although they did reveal differences in gene expression and slight differences in niche use. They suggest that speciation in this group may be on-going, perhaps driven by small ecological shifts, and argue that even high-powered genetic techniques may not be able to uncover a species' whole story.

Mol. Ecol. 10.1111/mec.13140 (2015).

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