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Harvey Publishes Article on Speciation

Michael Harvey

Mike Harvey, a postdoctoral fellow in the UT Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, published an article titled “Beyond Reproductive Isolation: Demographic Controls on the Speciation Process” in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics.

The article is a review of the past method of determining the cause of speciation – the process of how new species form. Harvey points out in the article there are other ways to determine the causes that lead to the creation of new species besides reproductive isolation, including the isolation and persistence of certain species populations. 

“Initially, you have one population, and something happens to split that population into two,” Harvey said. “Those two populations need to persist for a long time. If they go extinct, the populations will not survive long enough for reproductive isolation to evolve between them.”

 Harvey outlines the process of speciation in the article, focusing on the role of population isolation and persistence as catalysts for new species.

“We’re not providing new data,” Harvey said. “We’re describing a new way to approach or way to look at how new species form.”

Harvey hopes the article will encourage more researchers to collaborate and to step back and look at other causes of speciation.

“I hope it’s going to get more researchers thinking about being collaborative and integrated in the way they do research. Not just focus on what they do, but maybe reach across different fields and draw from other types of data and research,” Harvey said. “Taking a step back and considering these other parts of the process could be really important.”

Co-authors on the article include Sonal Singhal of California State University and Daniel Rabosky of the University of Michigan.

-By Kelly Alley