PerspectiveGenomics

Diversity hotspots: Coldspots of speciation?

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Science  11 Dec 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6522, pp. 1268-1269
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf0830

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Summary

From the tropical Andes to the Mediterranean Basin, some regions of Earth host an extraordinary number of species compared to less diverse regions. Robust species-level phylogenies (which map evolutionary relatedness) obtained from genetic sequencing are key for understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes at the origin of such species richness gradients. Yet, they are still incomplete for species-rich groups, even among the most studied organisms such as birds. On page 1343 of this issue, Harvey et al. (1) assemble an impressive phylogenomic dataset for the largest Neotropical bird group, the sub oscine passerine radiation. Their analysis of these data suggests that species origination is slower, rather than faster, in hotspots of suboscine diversity and that time, rather than speciation rates, explains suboscine diversity gradients.

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