The evolutionary and ecological processes behind the origin of species are among the most fundamental problems in biology. In fact, many theoretical hypothesis on different type of speciation have been proposed. In particular, models of sympatric speciation leading to the formation of new species without geographical isolation, are based on the niche hypothesis: the diversification of the population is induced by the competition for a limited set of available resources. Interestingly, neutral models of evolution have shown that stochastic forces are sufficient to generate coexistence of different species. In this work, we put forward this dichotomy within the context of species formation, studying how neutral and niche forces contribute to sympatric speciation in a model ecosystem. In particular, we study the evolution of a population of individuals with asexual reproduction whose inherited characters or phenotypes are specified by both niche-based and neutral traits. We analyze the stationary state of the dynamics, and study the distribution of individuals in the whole phenotypic space. We show, both numerically and analytically, that there is a non-trivial coupling between neutral and niche forces induced by stochastic effects in the evolution of the population allowing the formation of clusters, that is, species in the phenotypic space. Remarkably, our framework can be generalized also to sexual reproduction or other type of population dynamics.
The tropics contain the overwhelming majority of Earth’s biodiversity: their terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems hold more than three-quarters of all species, including almost all shallow-water corals and over 90% of terrestrial birds. However, tropical ecosystems are also subject to pervasive and interacting stressors, such as deforestation, overfishing and climate change, and they are set within a socio-economic context that includes growing pressure from an increasingly globalized world, larger and more affluent tropical populations, and weak governance and response capacities. Concerted local, national and international actions are urgently required to prevent a collapse of tropical biodiversity.
The future of hyperdiverse tropical ecosystems
Jos Barlow, et al.
Nature volume 559, pages 517–526 (2018)
The networks that form natural, social, and technological systems are vulnerable to the spreading impacts of perturbations. Theory predicts that networks with a clustered or modular structure—where nodes within a module interact more frequently than they do with nodes in other modules—might contain a perturbation, preventing it from spreading to the entire network. Gilarranz et al. conducted experiments with networked populations of springtail ( Folsomia candida ) microarthropods to show that modularity limits the impact of a local extinction on neighboring nodes (see the Perspective by Sales-Pardo). In networks with high modularity, the perturbation was contained within the targeted module, and its impact did not spread to nodes beyond it. However, simulations revealed that modularity is beneficial to the network only when perturbations are present; otherwise, it hinders population growth.
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