We develop a simple framework for modeling speciation and diversification as a continuous process of accumulation of genetic (or morphological) differences accompanied by species and subpopulation extinction and/or range expansion. This framework can be used to approach a number of questions such as species-area distribution, species–range size distribution, the rate of ecological turnover, asymmetries of range division between sister species, waiting time until speciation and extinction, the relationship between the geographic range size and the probability of speciation, the relationships between subpopulation-level parameters and metapopulation-level parameters, and the effects of taxonomic level on these rates, distributions, and parameters. We illustrate some of these applications using numerical simulations. We develop approximations describing the dependence of the number of different taxonomic units, their average range size, and the rate of their turnover on the system size, the rate of fixation of genetic (or morphological) changes in local demes, and the rate of local extinction and colonization.
Corresponding Editor: H. A. Orr