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Revealing ancient hybridization’s role in diversification

Hybridization between closely related species is a rapidly emerging field of interest for evolutionary biologists, and the more scientists look for signals of hybridization (with ever fancier tools), the more we learn that hybridization is the norm rather than the exception (Payseur & Rieseberg 2016). While young species pairs tend to hybridize more readily than […]


Reproductive Isolation and the ‘Hockey Assist’ – How a shift to self-compatible mating systems can bring about reproductive isolation

The first steps in the process of speciation are a bit paradoxical when you think about it…how does one freely interbreeding species make the transition to two reproductively isolated, independent species? More specifically, how do intraspecific mating barriers become interspecific? And why even are there intraspecific mating barriers? Well, that last question is easier to […]


The difference 70 miles can make

Adapting to temperature is critical for any organism. Thus, many mammals, especially small, temperature-sensitive ones, have adaptations allowing them to modulate their metabolisms to adapt to their local winter temperatures, at an energetic cost (Chappell, 1980; Garcia-Elfring, Barrett, & Millien, 2019; Geiser & Ruf, 1995). The optimal metabolic modulation could be very precise, and would […]


Jumping genes help resolve obscure species relationships

Figuring out evolutionary relationships between species is hard enough when they diversified recently, but what if they rapidly diversified many millions of years ago? A group of baleen whales, the rorquals (Balaenopteridae), for example, diversified starting about 10.5 million years ago (Figure 1; Árnason et al. 2018). Within this group, the evolutionary relationship of the […]


Three’s not a crowd! Does genetic variation across a tri-species hybrid zone respond to environmental differences across the landscape?

Hybrid zones elucidate the barriers to interspecific reproduction, the raw material for speciation, and thus are unparalleled resources for evolutionary biologists (Harrison 1993). However, when hybrid zones appear to lack reproductive barriers to gene flow, they pose a different set of questions, for example, what are the historical and contemporary factors which facilitate gene flow […]


Do marine species of a fin flock together?

In every biology textbook, Darwin’s finches remain a staple introduction to the concept of speciation and adaptive radiations.  Considered part of the tanager family, these fifteen species native to the Galapagos Islands evolved from a single ancestor 2 million years ago (Lamichhaney et al. 2015).  Since then, many examples of species flocks, or groups of […]


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