Evolutionary biologists have often suggested that ecology is important in speciation, in that natural selection may drive adaptive divergence between lineages that inhabit different environments. I suggest that it is the tendency of lineages to maintain their ancestral ecological niche (phylogenetic niche conservatism) and their failure to adapt to new environments which frequently isolates incipient species and begins the process of speciation. Niche conservatism may be an important and widespread component of allopatric speciation but is largely unstudied. The perspective outlined here suggests roles for key microevolutionary processes (i.e., natural selection, adaptation) that are strikingly different from those proposed in previous literature on ecology and speciation. Yet, this perspective is complementary to the traditional view because it focuses on a different temporal stage of the speciation process.
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Vol. 58 • No. 1