The role of dispersal and adaptive divergence in the diversification and speciation of the tribe Brassiceae and genus Cakile
Adaptation is central to our understanding of the origin of biological diversity. Yet whether adaptive divergence promotes the formation of new lineages remains poorly understood. My dissertation addresses the role of adaptive divergence in diversification and speciation. I also investigate an alternative mechanism: dispersal, which can promote diversification and speciation through its effects on gene flow and allopatry. To address the role of divergent adaptation and dispersal in the process of diversification, I take an integrated approach, combining both comparative methods with quantitative genetics to characterize patterns of diversification and speciation in the tribe Brassiceae and genus Cakile. I start with a comparative study of the role of dispersal and adaptation in diversification, and then focus on the role of climatic and latitudinal divergence in the processes of adaptive divergence and speciation. In general, I find limited evidence for the role of divergent adaptation in the evolution of intrinsic reproductive isolation. Diversification in the tribe Brassiceae appears to be mediated by dispersal ability, while in the genus Cakile, the evolution of intrinsic reproductive isolation is largely independent of ecological divergence. Thus, while divergent adaptation to novel habitats and climate are likely occurring in Brassiceae, mediated in part by the evolution of long-distance dispersal, the evolution of intrinsic genic reproductive barriers appears to not be influenced by adaptation.
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