Towards a process-based understanding of speciation and reverse speciation
Global biodiversity is the result of two processes, speciation and extinction. Most conservation studies focus on extinction, as the most immediate factor affecting biodiversity. There is, however, mounting evidence that speciation can be important over time scales as short as a few decades. The speciation process can add to global biodiversity by creating two species out of one. Interestingly, the process can also act in reverse two created two species out of one when the two species lineages are of recent evolutionary origin. For preserving endangered species and predicting ecological changes caused by human impacts, it is important to understand how the process of speciation shape patterns of global biodiversity. The aim of this project is to develop a process-based understanding of speciation and speciation in reverse. Ecologically realistic individual-based models with explicit genetics have been developed for this purpose, and these models will be systematically explored to gain understanding of how and when speciation increases biodiversity by creating two species out of one, and when it reduces biodiversity by acting in reverse. The work is mainly focused on uncovering the conditions that can induce loss of biodiversity through reverse speciation.