What, if anything, is sympatric speciation?

  title={What, if anything, is sympatric speciation?},
  author={Brandon M. Fitzpatrick and James A. Fordyce and Sergey Gavrilets},
  journal={Journal of Evolutionary Biology},
Sympatric speciation has always fascinated evolutionary biologists, and for good reason; it pits diversifying selection directly against the tendency of sexual reproduction to homogenize populations. However, different investigators have used different definitions of sympatric speciation and different criteria for diagnosing cases of sympatric speciation. Here, we explore some of the definitions that have been used in empirical and theoretical studies. Definitions based on biogeography do not… 

Sympatric speciation without borders?

The biogeography of speciation remains a controversial issue and the process of allopatric speciation reigns, so Crow et al. (2010) challenge us to expand the definition of sympatric Speciation by studying species of marine fishes that they propose have arisen by sympatrics speciation in a setting that does not appear to conform to the usual geographical criteria.

Pattern, process and geographic modes of speciation

Advances in the study of speciation have come from studies of the processes that constrain or promote divergence, and how they are affected by geography.

Space, sympatry and speciation

A more precise spatial definition of sympatry is proposed by incorporating the population genetics of dispersal (or ‘cruising range’), which is considerably more likely under this spatial definition than under the demic definition, because distance itself has a powerful structuring effect, even over small spatial scales comparable to dispersal.

Are we analyzing speciation without prejudice?

A review of 73 recent empirical studies shows that when allopatric speciation is suggested, a nonallopatrics alternative is rarely considered, whereas the opposite is true in studies suggesting sympatric Speciation, indicating a biased treatment of different speciation models.

Searching for Sympatric Speciation in the Genomic Era.

Tory differences among different types of sympatric speciation and speciation-with-gene-flow models are reviewed and summarized, and genomic analyses are proposed for distinguishing which models apply to case studies based on the timing and function of adaptive introgression.

Ecological speciation ! Or the lack thereof ? 1

Variation along a continuum from panmixia to complete reproductive isolation might profitably be used for studying factors that can promote or constrain ‘‘progress’’ toward ecological speciation.

New criteria for sympatric speciation in the genomic era

Criteria for demonstrating sympatric speciation in the face of widespread gene flow is revisited and monophyly is an insufficient criterion; it must take a locus-specific approach to investigate whether any introgression contributed to reproductive isolation.

Sympatric Speciation in the Post “Modern Synthesis” Era of Evolutionary Biology

The evolution of reproductive isolation solely due to natural selection is perhaps the most controversial manner by which sympatric speciation occurs, and it is that which is focused upon in this review.

Sympatric speciation in a genus of marine reef fishes

The study addresses limitations of previous studies and supports new criteria for inferring sympatric speciation, as well as comparing aspects of reproductive isolation between allopatric and sympatrics taxa both in nature and in the laboratory.


  • Roman Yukilevich
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 2014
A new “rate test of speciation” is developed that estimates the likelihood of non‐allopatric speciation given the distribution of RI rates in allopatry versus sympatry, and shows how using RI measures can greatly inform us about the geographical mode of Speciation in nature.



Sympatric Speciation: Models and Empirical Evidence

It is now generally accepted that sympatric speciation has occurred in at least a few instances, and is theoretically plausible, and progress is being made on evaluating the empirical validity of key theoretical conditions for sympatrics speciation.

Sympatric speciation: when is it possible?

The present analysis confirms the view that such a selection on sufficiently polymorphic traits for speciation is ecologically realistic and shows that populations with bimodal distributions of some genetically determined quantitative characters can have a considerable life-time.


The results support skepticism about ARC's power for inferring the biogeography of speciation and propose methodological improvements including changes in the way overlap between clades is quantified and Monte Carlo methods to test the null hypothesis of no relationship between phylogenetic relatedness and geographic range overlap.

Adaptive Dynamics of Speciation: Sexual Populations

From the heyday of the Modern Synthesis until relatively recently, the importance of sympatric speciation has been downplayed, and the corresponding hypotheses remained obscure well beyond Maynard Smith’s seminal study.

Sympatric speciation

Sympatric speciation in phytophagous insects: moving beyond controversy?

The evidence for sympatric speciation via host shifting for phytophagous insects is reviewed and a set of testable predictions for distinguishing geographic mode (allopatric versus sympatrics) of divergence are proposed.

Sympatric speciation in palms on an oceanic island

A large dated phylogenetic tree shows that the two species of Howea, endemic to the remote Lord Howe Island, are sister taxa and diverged from each other well after the island was formed 6.9 million years ago.


  • S. Gavrilets
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 2003
This work describes the Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller (BDM) model of speciation that does not require overcoming selection and describes exactly how the probability of speciation, the average waiting time to speciation, and the average duration of Speciation depend on the mutation and migration rates, population size, and selection for local adaptation.

Evolutionary biology: Sympatric plant speciation in islands?

Comparative data on two endemic species of the palm genus Howea in Lord Howe Island are presented, from which it is inferred that speciation was sympatric — that is, divergence had occurred in the absence of geographic isolation.

Non-Allopatric Speciation in Animals

The extent to which the theory and evidence amassed since 1963 warrant a major change in views of animal speciation is reviewed, and the theory of stasipatric speciation and purported cases of sympatrics associated with a shift to a new host are reviewed.