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The ring species concept revisited
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Systematic Zoology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Ring species may offer important insights into the role of isolation by distance in speciation. In recent years, the study of ring species has been revigorated by the application of phylogeographic methods. The concept of ring species, however, has received little attention since its original formulation in the first half of the twentieth century. A review of the two best-documented cases of putative ring species suggests that different evolutionary patterns have been referred to by the term ‘ring species’. These putative ring species share a circular colonization pattern but have fundamentally different evolutionary histories and patterns of geographic variation. Because these patterns cannot be explained by a single evolutionary model, a terminological distinction is warranted. It is suggested that the term ‘ring species’ be restricted to taxa which form a single evolutionary unit and in which the end-points have diverged as a result of isolation by distance. The new evolutionary term ‘taxon chain’ is suggested for a clade consisting of multiple evolutionary units separated by secondary contact zones. The study of ring species and taxon chains requires an integrative approach, including the description of geographic variation, phylogeographic study of historical divergence, assessment of gene flow, and study of interactions in contact zones.

Keyword [en]
circular overlaps, Ensatina, isolation by distance, Phylloscopus, speciation, taxon chain
National Category
Evolutionary Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-95972OAI: diva2:662616
Available from: 2013-11-07 Created: 2013-11-07 Last updated: 2013-11-08
In thesis
1. Integrative taxonomy of birds: Studies into the nature, origin and delimitation of species
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Integrative taxonomy of birds: Studies into the nature, origin and delimitation of species
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Species are the basic currency in biodiversity studies but what constitutes a species has long been controversial. A major breakthough was the insight that most systematists agree that species are segments of population lineages, and that multiple lines of evidence should be employed and integrated, a procedure called integrative taxonomy. For this dissertation, I have studied integrative taxonomy from three angles. First, I address a series of influential claims about the nature and empirical basis of taxonomic change in birds. In Paper I, I show that taxonomic change is overwhelmingly data-driven. Thus, increasing numbers of species represent progress, not taxonomic inflation resulting from a change in species concept. In Paper II, I provide the first detailed quantitative analysis of how species are delimited in practice. This study shows that, contrary to widely held beliefs, avian taxonomy has not been dominated by the Biological Species Concept. Instead, species delimitation is increasingly pluralistic and eclectic. I argue that taxonomic practice is more unified than is implied by the controversy over species concepts. Integrative taxonomy can provide new insights into the speciation process. In Paper III, I show that two very different evolutionary patterns have been referred to by the term ‘ring species’ which are best distinguished using an integrative approach. Finally, two case studies of integrative taxonomy are presented. In Paper IV, we describe a new cryptic species of owl, the Rinjani Scops Owl (Otus jolandae), using evidence from plumage details, morphometrics, vocalizations and playback studies. Paper V presents a study of the evolutionary history of diversification in a widespread Indo-Pacific passerine, the Red-bellied Pitta (Erythropitta erythrogaster). Using molecular species delimitation methods and evidence from plumage details and morphometrics, we suggest that this species includes up to 17 species which originated during the Pleistocene

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2013. 36 p.
Aves, biogeography, integrative taxonomy, pluralism, ring species, speciation, species criteria, species limits, taxon chain
National Category
Biological Systematics
Research subject
Systematic Zoology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96049 (URN)978-91-7447-818-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-12, Lilla hörsalen, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Frescativägen 40, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defence the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Ahead of Print; Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-11-20 Created: 2013-11-08 Last updated: 2013-11-20Bibliographically approved

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