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Divergence and constraint in the origin of new species
The origin of new species creates biological diversity and understanding species formation is thus a
key goal in biology. In this talk, I will tackle the issue of why some populations that begin the
speciation process diverge further than others, a phenomenon central to understanding
diversification. Using a combination of theoretical modeling and empirical studies of plant-feeding
insects I will show how adaptation to different ecological environments generally promotes
speciation. However, this process can be constrained or counteracted by numerous factors.
Specifically, speciation can stall 'partway' before completion due to: an insufficient number of
genetic differences underlying adaptive divergence, ecological shifts that are too modest to drive
strong divergence, and selective processes that increase genetic mixing between populations. The
origin of new diversity thus reflects a balance between these factors driving and constraining
evolutionary divergence.